I am a student at UT, a nontraditional student in the Center for Mexican American Studies and the department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies. It recently came to my attention through a letter that a ceremony will soon be held to announce that the BLS (Black and Latino Studies) building has been renamed the Gordon White Building. According to the letter, it is being named after Edmund T. Gordon’s parents (he is the Chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department) and Charles and Fran White, artist-activist and teacher-activist, respectively, who donated art pieces that now hang in the Blanton Museum of Art.
The objection I have is that there is no part of the name that honors anyone in Mexican American Studies/Latino Studies. In fact, we the students did not even receive notification or even an invitation to the event. As you can see, the event is already scheduled for May 6.
While no disrespect is intended to the Gordons or the Whites, I, as a Mexican American Studies student, feel that we have been slighted. The intent of the building was to house both African American Studies and Mexican American/Latino Studies, and yet it seems that we were left out completely from the name selection and from the renaming ceremony. And my understanding is that the AADS students also had no idea this was even happening and that they also feel that attaching the name “White” is somewhat discordant with a building built to house African American students and Mexican American/Latino students.
As hard as it has been for our communities to come out of the shadows, we have been relegated back into the shadows and taken several steps backward.
We would like to know who chose the name and why neither group of students was even made aware that these names were being considered.
We would rather have it remain BLS until a name that reflects both departments is considered and agreed upon.
— Yolanda Estrada Muñoz, Center for Mexican American Studies and the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, nontraditional Student.