We are a group of people across different fields, occupations, disciplines and spaces. We have been part of the communities in which Shellyne has contributed her energy, spirit and intellect and in which she has grown. Together we have shared joyful and difficult times, in struggle and in organization. Through her art, teaching, and care, Shellyne is a vital member of her community in the Bronx and beyond.
We have found Hunter University's reactions to Shellyne's current predicament hugely distressing, not to mention ironic. While the public university issues statement after statement pledging their support for "diversity, equity, and inclusion," they have not only refused to protect their educator from racist and homophobic attacks and threats, but have acted in unison with that violence by firing her. Hunter's disciplining of Shellyne during this time demonstrates their tacit approval of racist and gendered violence. These actions do not bode well for the future of students and educators of color in NYC.
On May 26th, the School of Visual Arts also fired Shellyne after years of dedicated instruction. Like Hunter, this demonstrates that universities are only interested in hiring queer, working women of color when it suits their demographic needs. They are only interested in their instruction on the histories of racism and colonialism when it helps them look with the times. The second that an instructor needs even a modicum of support (at this point financial as well as emotional), they are thrown out to dry.
Black, Indigenous, Women, and LGBTQ people of color are left unprotected even as they are tasked with helping their students develop critical thinking tools for navigating those very systemic issues schools pretend to criticize. Indeed, now as Shellyne faces doxxing and attacks, we see how the emotional, physical, and material wellbeing of educators like Shellyne is not important to Hunter College. For a moment let us consider that the reason Hunter and SVA have fired Shellyne is because she stood up for women's reproductive rights and to protect her students from misinformation. Every educator, student, and community worker should be worried about the colluding position institutions take in the face of misinformation and right-wing politics.
We ask that people share their strategies for defense and collective care and that we stand with Shellyne as she has stood with us for many years and in many different struggles. We demand an end to the harassment and an immediate retraction of purposefully spread misinformation from media outlets including the New York Post and the Daily Mail.