What ‘anti-racist’ means

Must be opposite day again.

I read this brief AP blip about the formation of an “anti-racist” group at West Chester University:

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Fliers announcing the formation of a “White Student Union” on West Chester University’s campus have sparked controversy.

School officials say the fliers were part of an effort to organize people who are against racism and are not the seeds of a racist organization.

University spokeswoman Pam Sheridan said students raised concerns about the fliers.

She said an investigation revealed that the fliers were put together with “a totally different agenda in mind and it backfired.” She said the intent was to get people to constructively talk about racism.

West Chester University has roughly 14,000 students. About 85 percent are white.

Okay, nothing to see here! Just a misunderstanding! These are just naive people who are trying to work towards anti-racism.

Of course I had to see what this “flap” (ever notice how often racial issues are referred to as “flaps”?) was all about. Here’s the text of the flyer:

WHITE STUDENT UNION

Are you:
Feeling underrepresented on campus?
Looking for a place to share YOUR views?
Uncomfortable in other “special interest” groups?

THEN THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU!

Join the White Student Union for our first meeting on Thursday …

Pam Sheridan, referenced in the brief AP article, is the director of public relations and marketing. In another article, she’s quoted as saying “It was good intention gone awry.”  The “Campus Climate Intervention Team” sent out an e-mail stating “”We have learned the meeting was, in fact, designed to draw anti-racist allies together.”

Read the various news articles, and you’ll see it was all about good intentions.  Having a discussion about race and racism.  And these are our “anti-racist allies.”

It’s a skillful bit of spin, fully expected at a time when the majority regularly usurps, inverts and makes claims about who the real racists are.

A junior, Adam Rizzo, who said he wasn’t involved with the poster, said he could understand how some people might want to start what he referred to as a European-based cultural group.

“All we’re looking for is equal representation. What’s wrong with having something European that encompassed a wide range of people that was culturally based?” asked Rizzo, a music major and university ambassador.

“Here at West Chester University we have multiple groups that exemplify reverse racism such as Black Student Union, Black Men United, National Association of Black Accountants, just to name a few. It is terrible that the formation of a group whose sole purpose was to have equal representation on campus was so rudely scolded and shut down,” he said.

Because it’s all about fairness. And equal representation. And having the whole pie.

I used to think that people really were this naive or just dumb as rocks. But as for those South Dakota students, it appears that their claims they didn’t know what it meant were false.  Because at least one of them is defending the right to assert Whlte Prlde online.

So now they are the anti-racists.  And we are the racists.  But they are our allies.

15 thoughts on “What ‘anti-racist’ means

  1. my brain has rejected this. it is now rhythmically warring against my forehead with a stupidity/racist induced throb.

    seriously? 85% of the campus, and you feel underrepresented?

    AGH! the throbbing!!

  2. My ass. If their intention was to be an anti-racist group, they would have called it the Anti-Racist Student Union, not the White Student Union.

    And Rizzo’s just one of the millions of people who don’t get that White Unions and Straight Pride Parades and everything else like that are unnecessary because every fucking day in almost every part of North America (and elsewhere in many places of the world) is White Pride Day and Straight Pride Day. When you’re the top dog due to politics and/or demographics, you don’t NEED to assert your right to exist and create a safe space for yourself and others like you.

  3. I do not believe for a second this group was intended for antiracist work, but in a nation where Tim Wise is considered one of the “foremost anti-racists writers”, I can see them using that excuse. Tim Wise actually has a group called “Association for White Anti Racist Education” and many of his “followers” have interpreted (correctly or incorrectly I do not know, because I have not read them) his books as saying that white anti-racists need to work in white only groups. Something about white people trying to take over in multi racial coalitions, so they should go off and create their own groups so they CAN be in charge without “stepping on toes” Now, I do not know if this is actually Tim Wise philosophy, but I know many “white anti-racists” who look at Tim Wise as their God have told me I am misguided when I say white people should be willing to rescind leadership to POC in a multi-racial group, that, in fact, white people should form their own groups.

  4. Seriously. If these are our allies.

    I don’t believe this group was intended to be anti-racist either. It’s an example of the way white people see movements toward equality as a threat to their very being. A demonstration of the inability to think critically. And a demonstration of how institutional racism functions. The university was very quick to note that this wasn’t a racist group. But that wasn’t enough for them. Not only wasn’t it racist, why, it was anti-racist!

  5. “European-based cultural group”

    Uh. Interesting. I guess all those POC who are European are just figments of our collective imaginations? European = white, always and forever?

    And yeah – any white person wanting to work against racism and wanting to be a real ally would not in a million fucking years call their group the White Student Union, and sure as shit wouldn’t be whining about under-representation of “Europeans”. Gross.

  6. If they wanted “equal representation”, then they’d have to work hard to actually move down from the over-representation that they already have. Wow, that’s a big stinking pile of unexamined privilege right there. I’m white and a woman, and I can easily understand why it’s ok to belong to a group for women but not necessary to have a group for white people.

  7. The whole game was up the moment the term “reverse racism” entered the discussion. The dogwhistles were all over the place (“special interest” groups) but that’s the big one right there. Once someone ventures into the territory of claiming that minority solidarity groups are inherently racist towards whites just by existing while using the nonsensical “reverse racism” term, you can be pretty sure that you’re dealing with a bonehead doing PR spin.

  8. The “white student union” thing, and almost verbatim the kid’s quote are all white supremacist talking points. In the late 80’s and 90’s several white supremacist groups pushed this “white student union” idea as a way to make in-roads into college campuses, sort of a prefigurative space.

  9. “It’s an example of the way white people see movements toward equality as a threat to their very being.”

    Well, equality IS a threat to whiteness, or at least, white supremacy. And if you’ve lived every day of your life where everyone/place/thing you encountered reinforced and celebrated your existence, then yeah, giving someone else that opportunity is a threat to their very being.

    Now, if this group was about redefining what “white” and “whiteness” mean, and was using those white power talking points as a hook, I’d be all for it—their weak “reverse racism” garbage belied any such intention, though. Personally, I like subverting and messing with people’s minds, so I could see myself using a poster just like they did to catch those people who have those backwards thoughts, and then slowly work in real anti-racist theory and practice.

  10. “No, YOU’RE racist!” Ah, the oldest trick in the book. Off topic, I just dealt with some racist trolls (try to ignore them but…they bring you down sometimes). It’s nice to find places like these, read the replies and see just how many people (of different races) hate racism. It always makes me feel better when I remind myself that people are better than trolls.

  11. ” Uncomfortable with being reminded of your endless White Privelege?

    Then This Is The Group For You!!!”

  12. I agree with the comment upthread that if the intention had been anti-racism, it would have been called the Anti-Racist Student Union or (Campus) Unity or something inclusive.

  13. I keep thinking about this post because there are several of examples in the situation you presented of what most kills me about white privilege.

    The fact that the students involved in this “White Student Union”, with their bold-faced lies, were able to pull this off is beyond me. And the university spinning it into an even bigger lie like everyone else is stupid and being overly sensitive. Then the fact that there are people who actually buy this shit!

    It drives me mad. It’s just so damned stupid.

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