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