It’s here:Black History Month, a period of time dedicated to remembering the legacy of civil rights leaders, as well as reflecting on the state of race in this country and on our campus.
But now, in mid-February, there seems to be a lack of formal discussion and events about Black History Month at the University of Dallas, aside from reading within the Core, which includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. There was also the annual MLK Symposium held on Jan. 15, 2018.
This year the MLK Symposium, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” discussed the theology of nonviolence and inclusion. The event highlighted the importance of continuous discussion.
Out of 20 interviews on campus, 18 UD students agreed that there is a need for more events relating to Black History Month on campus as well as a general discussion about race.
Students expressed the desire for forums, panels and student-led discussions. Those who answered otherwise did not disagree completely with this desire but stated that UD should have more events if a conflict
occurs, such as a hate crime.
Such an event took place last semester.
On the early morning of Nov. 2, CSO removed several anonymous signs taped around campus before sunrise, though fragments remained on lamp posts between Anselm and Gregory Halls. Their design was simple, centered black text printed on white paper, bearing the message: “It’s okay to be white.”
Although those responsible for these signs remain unnamed, the content can be traced to 4chan. 4chan is a website that allows users to post and start anonymous message boards.
According to the Washington Post, a 4chan user encouraged others to post this message publicly in an attempt to push white Americans to the alt-right and to discredit the media by causing social conflicts.
Politics professor Dr. Christopher Wolfe spoke on a panel last November, which aimed to discuss the new resurgence of white supremacy in America.
“It’s (sic) sounds silly, in a way (many of us would react with ‘who thinks it’s not ok to be white?’), but, to be fair, I suppose there are many people these days who receive a great deal of attention in the media, who will say only critical things about white people, white culture, etc.,” Wolfe said via email. “But, as the classical education at UD emphasizes, and as Martin Luther King, Jr. argued, what matters is a person’s ideas and character, not what the color of his skin is.”
Nick Krause, a junior history major and resident assistant (RA), was invited to speak at the MLK Symposium this year. He cites “trolling” as the prime motivation for the posters.
“This is the reaction against what many on this campus call the ‘politically correct’ culture,” Krause said. “To them, it’s about ‘melting snowflakes.’ The sentiment … is very present on this campus.”
Similar posters and stickers declaring the message were present on other campuses including, but not limited to, Concordia College, Tulane University and Cambridge in the first couple weeks of November. Some universities responded by holding panels and discussions.
UD administration responded to the posters by taking them down immediately, with no mention of the signs to the general student body. Still, Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham encouraged students not to tolerate racially charged statements.
“When you hear a racially insensitive comment and say nothing, or laugh, or make a racially insensitive comment in reply, what are you teaching your classmates?” Oldham said in an email. “By not calling out such comments, you affirm their place in our community.”
Krause mentioned examples of racial issues on campus that he has seen as an RA.
“I’ve had to comfort [an] international student who was tormented by conservative students about his visa status the day of President Trump’s election, ” Krause wrote. “Toward the end of that discussion he sincerely asked, ‘Do white people hate me because I am brown?’ … If this is still embracing ‘All Lives Matter,’ I think that is a painfully low threshold.”
Krause cited other comments, both direct and overheard, including student use of “n—–” to negatively describe black roommates and professors, and indictments of the more diverse groups on campus, such as the graduate college of business.