Editor’s Note: The image originally posted with this article has been removed.
This open letter from the NCSU Workers Union has been issued in response to Shaun King’s invitation to speak on February 11, 2019, as part of the Department of Social Work’s 2019 Lecture Series.
The invitation from the Department of Social Work comes after recent threats of legal action by Mr. King and his lawyers against Black womxn and members of the Black queer community, such as Clarissa Brooks and Ernest Owens, who have critiqued him openly. Many criticisms and allegations stem from a consistent lack of transparency regarding the use and management of funds raised by Mr. King in the aftermath of tragic incidents. Mr. King has dismissed these allegations as “complete fabrication.” We have provided links to articles at the bottom of this letter for you to further review the allegations against Shaun King.
We acknowledge that Shaun King has played a prominent role in sharing graphic videos of Black death online and sparking media attention in the wake of such incidents. While such actions can enlighten the public regarding relations between the police and the Black community, Mr. King frequently centers himself and his fundraising campaigns in a way that has often been interpreted as self-serving. We must hold Mr. King accountable for his oppressive behavior.
We, the members of the NCSU Workers Union, stand in solidarity with Black womxn workers and Black queer workers across the nation who may be affected by the actions of Mr. King. We believe their voices and interests must be centered. We stand in solidarity with Black communities whose cries for justice against police brutality and racist violence are often co-opted by outsiders as fodder for professional gain and access to privileged spaces. We stand against social justice advocates who use their online social capital and connections to power structures to harm, and otherwise invalidate, marginalized persons. Social justice works when we act both justly and for the social good of others.
The NCSU Workers Union requests that students and workers of color be involved in the process of choosing guest speakers to be invited by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, particularly when the subject matter deals centrally with issues of social justice. It is imperative that CHASS show its commitment to protecting the most marginalized people and their labor from exploitation. We recommend that, in the future, CHASS use its resources to uplift the voices of the oppressed, not the oppressors, and practice due diligence in vetting speakers before sending invitations.
NCSU Workers Union Organizing Committee