Photos from We Are GOD: A Day of Disrupting White Supremacy & Anti-Black Racism @ UW-Madison

by William Schuth in ,


The kids are alright.

Gathering at Bascom Hall, seat of the University's administration.

Gathering at Bascom Hall, seat of the University's administration.

Dean of Students Lori Berquam, Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, and others observe from afar just outside their offices in Bascom Hall.

Dean of Students Lori Berquam, Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, and others observe from afar just outside their offices in Bascom Hall.

Students gathered at the Abe Lincoln statue on Bascom Mall listen to one of the organizers of the demonstration. 

Students gathered at the Abe Lincoln statue on Bascom Mall listen to one of the organizers of the demonstration. 

Student protesters arrive at Helen C. White Hall, home of the Department of Afro-American Studies and College Library, the main undergraduate library. 

Student protesters arrive at Helen C. White Hall, home of the Department of Afro-American Studies and College Library, the main undergraduate library. 

Students chant outside Helen C. White Hall. 

Students chant outside Helen C. White Hall. 

Student protesters occupied Helen C. White Hall, symbolically disrupting studying as a rebuttal to University of Wisconsin Police who removed a Black student from an Afro-American Studies class and arrested him for allegedly authoring anti-racist graffiti on campus buildings.

Student protesters occupied Helen C. White Hall, symbolically disrupting studying as a rebuttal to University of Wisconsin Police who removed a Black student from an Afro-American Studies class and arrested him for allegedly authoring anti-racist graffiti on campus buildings.

Making their message heard without saying a word.

Making their message heard without saying a word.

This young man was kind enough to grant my request and pose for a photo. 

This young man was kind enough to grant my request and pose for a photo. 

Preparing to march from Helen C. White Hall, down N Park Street, to University Avenue. 

Preparing to march from Helen C. White Hall, down N Park Street, to University Avenue. 

Marching down Park Street between Science Hall and the Wisconsin State Historical Society, with Memorial Union and Union Theatre in the background. 

Marching down Park Street between Science Hall and the Wisconsin State Historical Society, with Memorial Union and Union Theatre in the background. 

Crossing Library Mall and Bascom Mall. 

Crossing Library Mall and Bascom Mall. 

Forward. 

Forward. 


1969 UW Strike Against Racism

by William Schuth in , ,


In 1969, Black students at the University of Wisconsin took action to address the University's neglect of and veiled hostility toward the needs of the Black community. These students conveyed their demands, including the establishment of a Black Studies department, to the University administration. The images below document how Wisconsin responded to those Black students and over 10,000 other people on campus who stood up with them. This is our institutional legacy. We must know this history to understand the deep, persistent currents that have led us to #theRealUW.

Anti-racist graffiti featured prominently in 1969, too. 

Anti-racist graffiti featured prominently in 1969, too. 

An activist flanked by supporters, addresses UW students in a classroom. 

An activist flanked by supporters, addresses UW students in a classroom. 

Riot police arrive at the University of Wisconsin's campus. 

Riot police arrive at the University of Wisconsin's campus. 

Riot police clash with UW student protesters. 

Riot police clash with UW student protesters. 

National Guardsmen, some of the 1200 troops called up by Governor Warren Knowles, point their unloaded, Jeep-mounted M1919 .30-caliber machine gun at University of Wisconsin student protesters. 

National Guardsmen, some of the 1200 troops called up by Governor Warren Knowles, point their unloaded, Jeep-mounted M1919 .30-caliber machine gun at University of Wisconsin student protesters. 

Black campus activists amplify their voices to ensure they are heard. 

Black campus activists amplify their voices to ensure they are heard. 

National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets line up opposite University of Wisconsin student protesters.

National Guardsmen with fixed bayonets line up opposite University of Wisconsin student protesters.

A figure wearing a hard hat and University of Wisconsin letter jacket observes the deployment of tear gas and National Guardsmen. 

A figure wearing a hard hat and University of Wisconsin letter jacket observes the deployment of tear gas and National Guardsmen. 

Riot police harass a young man – possibly a reporter – across the street from a Woolworth's store. 

Riot police harass a young man – possibly a reporter – across the street from a Woolworth's store. 

Billy club-wielding police forcefully subdue one young man and threaten another with similar treatment.

Billy club-wielding police forcefully subdue one young man and threaten another with similar treatment.

A man with a camera runs beneath the fixed bayonets brandished by a line of National Guardsmen standing opposite University of Wisconsin student protesters near Charter Street in Madison.

A man with a camera runs beneath the fixed bayonets brandished by a line of National Guardsmen standing opposite University of Wisconsin student protesters near Charter Street in Madison.

A National Guardsman armed with an M79 grenade launcher stands in front of other Guardsmen pointing rifles with fixed bayonets at the photographer. 

A National Guardsman armed with an M79 grenade launcher stands in front of other Guardsmen pointing rifles with fixed bayonets at the photographer. 

These images are scans from Richard Faverty & Joel Brenner's On Strike – Shut It Down (Madison: Beckett Associates, 1969), a book I happened across on a shelf in UW-Madison's Memorial Library while searching for something else. Such is the serendipity of browsing the stacks.

Note the limited number of Black students captured in the photographs. While Black students were, and remain, a minority population in the UW's campus community, these images are noteworthy for their lack of focus on the Black students whose concerns initiated the demonstrations. As we contemplate the University of Wisconsin's problematic legacy of responding to the concerns of minority students, we will do well to compare these images to the way agency and solidarity are depicted and assigned in the images that come out of #theRealUW demonstrations.


Thoughts on Madison's "Day Without Latinos & Immigrants"

by William Schuth in , ,


When Tom Russell, a resident of El Paso-Juarez, wrote "Who's Gonna Build Your Wall," he was reacting to anti-immigrant currents in Texas that exploit low-wage laborers, most of whom are immigrants from Mexico.

But as I travel around the big old world
There's one thing that I most fear
It's a white man in a golf shirt
With a cell phone in his ear. 

Russell sings about the guy in the world he most fears, "the white man in a golf shirt/with a cell phone in his ear." He sings about that archetypal White Man in that man's musical language – Country & Western, an aural mosaic that has incorporated many world musical traditions into the song of rural and suburban White America. But the problem at the root of it all, as Russell well knows, isn't just the archetypal White (bogey)Man.

Latin@s work in many capacities in our country, many as undocumented workers paid starvation wages, and many others as professionals – teachers, lawyers, firefighters, doctors, you name it. Latin@ life spans the gamut of the American experience and the spectrum of American politics. It's a damn shame we can't recognize Latin@s for what they are – not our "neighbors," but our brothers & sisters walking the same paths toward a future America as our ancestors did when they arrived.

Who's gonna wax the floors tonight
down at the local mall?
Who's gonna wash your baby's face?
Who's gonna build your wall?

"Who's gonna wash your baby's face?," Russell sings. The person providing the most intimate care for the vulnerable child, the one acting as surrogate for the affluent parents, is the one simultaneously despised, discredited, and suspected. That person does the work of the White Man's family without ever becoming family.

That White Man is so many of us, blind to the bonds of our kinship.


Complicating Veterans Day

by William Schuth in ,


I understand some folks – including many of us veterans – are uncomfortable with what has become a day for our society to render unquestioning worship to military service. For those of you with misgivings about today's holiday, I offer this:

Bonus Army

We can celebrate the social advancements that people who served before brought us – things like the Bonus Army; the GI Bill(s); the many men & women who persevered & served with honor & pride in segregated units that signaled they were considered less reliable, valiant, and human than their white counterparts; the men and women of all colors and backgrounds who served with dignity and honor after Executive Order 9981 ended formal segregation, but certainly not oppression; and the men and women who, by their resistance as troops in Vietnam, forced the political class & military brass to abandon that war.

Those are all things I think we can celebrate without getting militaristic. They speak to the better things done by people who have worn uniforms. They complicate the image of what a veteran is, and does, and means.

We need that complication.