As members of the Department of Anthropology, we stand in solidarity with Maya Little in her unparalleled commitment to social justice at UNC. We fully support her act of nonviolent civil disobedience protesting the racist monument to white supremacy known as Silent Sam. We join her in challenging Chancellor Carol Folt’s unwillingness to address the university’s role in perpetuating unequal distributions of systemic power. Following Maya, we seek justice, equity, and dignity for all.
Carol Folt has failed in her responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all students at UNC. Instead of removing a memorial to violent white supremacy, her administration spends $1,700 a day to keep the Silent Sam statue protected by the police, which amounts to 21x the annual pay of a UNC housekeeper. At the same time, the average UNC graduate student is paid $1,200 a month–well below the living wage in Orange County. Furthermore, her administration has chosen to cut funding to essential university bodies and initiatives that advance and protect civil rights on campus, such as the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Poverty, and Center for Civil Rights. She defunds these programs and devalues campus and graduate labor in the name of budget deficits while simultaneously spending thousands to protect white supremacy.
Carol Folt has decided to endanger the community she once pledged to serve. As a result, the responsibility to create a safe environment by challenging racism and oppression on campus has fallen on the shoulders of the already overburdened students, faculty, staff, and campus and graduate workers. Maya Little has already taken that step. Her actions properly contextualized Silent Sam, a statue erected by white supremacists who bragged about having “horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds” and sought to uphold the “purest strain of the Anglo Saxon race.” To this day, the statue continues to serve as a rallying point for violent white supremacist groups who threaten members of our campus community. We demand change and stand for diversity, equity, and inclusion on UNC’s campus. We demand that:
- Carol Folt remove Silent Sam.
- The university not take legal or disciplinary action against Maya Little for her act of civil disobedience.
- Sufficient compensation be given to the campus workers who cleaned Silent Sam of blood and ink without protective gear.
- UNC’s Trustees remove the 16-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings.
- The administration act to address institutional racism on campus and take unwavering responsibility for their actions that have made many students feel unsafe and threatened on UNC’s campus.
We will continue to challenge the structures and ideology of white supremacy at UNC until these demands are met. We will continue to call out those who fail to redress the participation of our institutions in slavery, Jim Crow, and continued racial and other inequalities. As Maya wrote, we will continue to protest the material and symbolic marks of white supremacy “until every facet of white supremacy on this campus has been removed.”
Liz Berger (alum)
Amelia Fiske (alum)
Laura Wagner (alum)
Patrick James Stimac
Eric H. Thomas
Saydia Gulrukh (alum)
Emily J. Noonan
Dawn R. Rivers