‘Racists who seek divi­sion are get­ting braver. So should we all.’

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Front Page - VICKY MOCHAMA KEVIN TUONG FOR METRO Vicky Mochama is Metro’s na­tional colum­nist. She ap­pears ev­ery Mon­day, Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day.

It has been one year since Don­ald Trump was elected. It has felt like ten. I want to say that as a Canadian, noth­ing he has done – or tried to do (what, are we on round four of the Mus­lim ban?) – a ects me. But I can’t pre­tend that it hasn’t.

The last year has sharp­ened my pol­i­tics and added ur­gency to the is­sues that mat­ter to me.

It has laid bare the things that we — women, Black peo­ple, Indige­nous peo­ple, Mus­lims — had been told not to talk about. We are harder to gaslight now, be­cause, well, we told you so.

But the pass­ing of time has also re­vealed and made pub­lic those things we couldn’t al­ways prove but knew to be true.

A se­ries of posters at the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta and the Uni­ver­sity of Calgary have been seen on cam­pus. They say in bold all-caps that “It’s okay to be white.” They may have been put up as a re­sult of a post on the 4chan mes­sage board.

Racist in­ci­dents have al­ways been a part of uni­ver­sity life. There is no point at which the ma­jor­ity-white sta­tus quo has ever re­ceived change with any­thing less than hos­til­ity.

But these posters, and many other sim­i­lar in­ci­dents, re­veal some­thing worth not­ing. The racist rhetoric that Don­ald Trump be­lieves in has been em­bold­ened. Though not quite say­ing it with their chests — none of the posters ap­pear to be signed — the peo­ple who put them up feel that white­ness should be al­lowed to take up space.

The di er­ent re­sponses at each also re­veal that we don’t quite yet know what to do. The U of A called the posters racist while the Uni­ver­sity of Calgary in­sisted that stu­dents have a right to free speech.

We have had a year to re lect and pre­pare, and our re­sponses still leave some­thing to be de­sired.

While white pride runs un­abated across cam­puses, I can’t help but think of the stu­dents af­fected. I read a Twit­ter thread this week from Melissa Daniels, a mem­ber of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Na­tion, wherein she de­scribed be­ing an Indige­nous per­son on a Canadian cam­pus. From ver­bal at­tacks to be­ing kicked out of the pro­gram, it seems not a sin­gle per­son Daniels en­coun­ters is equipped to con­front white supremacy.

We were not more in­no­cent a year ago. Ig­no­rance does not erase cul­pa­bil­ity. Still, we are now ur­gently re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing the dan­ger and de­struc­tion that Don­ald Trump rep­re­sents is not al­lowed to con­tinue fes­ter­ing here.

The racists who seek divi­sion are get­ting braver. So should we all.

We were not more in­no­cent a year ago. Ig­no­rance does not erase cul­pa­bil­ity. Still, we are now ur­gently re­spon­si­ble.

A mes­sage read­ing ‘It’s okay to be white’ was taped to the front door of Pem­bina Hall, which houses the Uni­ver­sity of Al­berta’s Na­tive Stud­ies pro­gram.

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