When I learned about the white supremacy-affiliated stickers found on Oklahoma Christian University’s campus, I felt numb.
My reaction compared to white people around me was relatively minimal considering the clear racial implications of the events which transpired. I did not notice this until someone asked me the simple question, “Why aren’t you more upset?” I do not remember what my answer was, but now I know I felt less immediate emotion because I am hyper-aware of the racial tension in this country.
Anyone who keeps a pulse on racial news may have been outraged by these stickers, but they likely were not surprised. Whether we recognize it or not, systemic and unfortunately direct racism still has a place in American society.
The university has been prudent in addressing this problem. As reported in a Talon article earlier this week, Gary Jones, Neil Arter and senior Racquelle Idleberg personally went around campus to take down the stickers. The FBI and local police were also immediately notified.
In an email sent to campus this week, President John deSteiguer addressed the stickers, encouraging students to tell either campus police or a trusted faculty member upon finding one.
“We believe this group is intentionally targeting college campuses and have confirmation of similar items found at one other local university,” deSteiguer’s email said. “This group and any other group or individual sharing a white supremacist or racist ideology is never welcome on our campus. OC is home for all students, and we will not tolerate any form of hate. I can’t state this strongly enough.”
I greatly appreciate the candor and clarity of President deSteiguer’s words. Still, this affirmation does not shake the image of a supporter of white supremacy walking around Oklahoma Christian’s campus, posting stickers inside buildings as public as the library.
Most people I talked to about the stickers seemed shocked and upset. Rightly so. To promote such clear hatred on a college campus is abhorrent. But to only feel emotional about the stickers and ignore the growth of white nationalism globally is counterproductive.
The KKK is still alive and well. More groups like it, including Patriot Front—the one targeting Oklahoma Christian and other schools—across the country are popping up, experiencing a growth of about 30%, according to NPR.
While I do not choose to live my life in fear of white supremacists, I was taught to be aware of my surroundings from a young age. As my friend Trinity Carpenter once pointed out to me, “I don’t know who they are, but they know who we are.” That thought is terrifying.
I did not react to the stickers because I would never want to give a neo-Nazi group the satisfaction of thinking their propaganda made any kind of influence.
White nationalism will never be abolished in our world if white people do not take an adamant stand against it. I frequently get questions from people who recognize and do not want to contribute to a society that diminishes the value of minorities. They ask questions like “what can I do to combat racism?” and “how can I help to change the views of people around me?”
While these questions typically come from people who have the best of intentions, the problem of racism and white nationalism should not be solved by minorities. White people should take charge. It is not our problem that people hate us, and it is not up to us to fix it.