We have been following the demands made by students as part of Black Lives Matter and other groups calling for racial justice. Few would top the demands of the Afrikan Student Union at the University of California which has issued a list of demands including a $40 million endowment. The group claims a pattern of “racial attacks” on campus.
The group is also demanded designated “safe spaces” and mandatory “cultural awareness training” for all incoming students, faculty and staff members, and campus police officers. UCLA is not known as a school with ongoing racial incidents but the group insists that “Black students at UCLA are consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty, and administration.”
The group however cites only one such incident on April 30, 2017, where the white student body president was denounced after taking a picture depicting a gang sign associated with the Bloods gang (which is a primarily black gang).
It is not immediately clear that the use of the gang sign was a racist attack, but Brian Kohaya immediately issued an apology that seemed like a reeducation camp graduation speech:
This is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk. … I should have known better and take full responsibility for my insensitivity.
I am not sure why this is an example of “white privilege” as opposed to simple stupidity. However, various students demanded his resignation for “offensive” speech. Robert Gardner, a senior at UCLA studying Political Science and African American studies, suggested that it was more than insensitivity but some form of
When a white person throws up the gang sign, they’re basically making a mockery of the oppression that African Americans in hyper-segregated neighborhoods face. A lot of black Bruins are extremely upset at this appropriation of our culture … that’s derived out of anti-black racism.
It is hard to square with something being an offensive racist symbol but also culturally appropriating.
The group also noted that tin 2015 the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Alpha Phi sorority held a “Kanye Western” theme party that it says was racially insensitive.
The African Student Union insisted that “since nothing has been done in recent years, the Afrikan Student Union is DEMANDING that UCLA administrators work with black students towards the development of a more positive campus climate” including forking over $40 million. Afrikan Student Union Chair Alicia Frison insists that “$40 million is just a drop in the bucket for the university.”