White supremacy in America is like a bad cold in an immunocompromised person – at first annoying and tough to shake off, yet highly capable of turning dangerous as the virus takes its toll on the human body. Here at UCLA, this virus is clearly alive and kicking.
Since Donald Trump’s election to the presidency last week, reports of hate crimes by white nationalists have flurried around social media, and UCLA has seen its own instances of controversy. Just a couple days back, a non-UCLA affiliated “UCLA White Students Group” put up posters around campus accusing the government of replacing white people by appeasing the “demands” of minority groups.
Yet again, UCLA has been graced by posters from those not affiliated with the campus, and yet again, we’ve all held back the bitter aftertaste in our mouths and proceeded to rush to our next class.
While it feels like racist posters from campus outsiders is only now becoming a norm, white supremacist groups have been flocking to campus for quite some time. In fact, in July of 1969 Daily Bruin staff reporter David Thoreau reported on a “white power” rally held in Meyerhoff Park, the grassy area outside of Kerckhoff Hall where Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke and the recent “Love Trumps Hate” rally was held in light of this year’s surprising presidential election results.
At the white power rally, held by the White Students League and the National Youth Alliance, the so-called “rightists” announced demands such as renaming of Bunche Hall – given Ralph Bunche was African-American – and implementing the “sciences of genetics, eugenics and ethnology” in order to uphold and prevent the “downgrade of white racial contribution” and “values of western culture.”
As bizarre as these white supremacists and their demands may seem, we can’t discount that parts of their legacy have been picked up by some of our student groups – albeit at significantly lower doses. For example, the Bruin Republicans’ “An Illegal Immigrant Killed My Child,” called for removal of a notable chunk of the student body – in this case undocumented individuals – in the name of nationalism and so-called security. The parallels between that event and White Students League president Dave McGinty stating that his organization was dedicated to the idea of “white america (sic)” are clear.
Of course, while we’ve certainly made progress when it comes to diversifying our thought and campus demographics, the white supremacists who pop up here and there like whack-a-moles are a continuous reminder of the need to push forward.
But as far as we’re concerned, the surging tides of far-right conservatism are as strong today as they were at the end of the ’60s, and it doesn’t show any signs of abating soon. And that’s especially relevant as we look towards the end of the tenure of America’s first – but hopefully not last – black president.