Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2013

Last Friday, Chancellor Katehi sent a rare message addressing racist incidents on campus. There was one for the racist vandalism on the civil rights movement anniversary a few months ago. The time before was two years ago — regarding a noose that appeared during a diversity conference (with no mention of the swastikas that came with it). There was not a peep from the Katehi, or usually anyone else in the administration, for many of the other reported incidents in between, some of which involved physical threats, assault, or violence.

Katehi’s message conveniently arrived on the Friday before the Thanksgiving Break when The Aggie won’t be publishing for two weeks and most people are too busy with holiday plans to take notice of the news.

This particular missive was in response to two separate incidents of students being harassed by tormenters in cars yelling racial slurs. It’s not uncommon to hear derogatory language on campus, so I’m curious as to why these particular incidents were taken seriously.

Katehi ends the email with the usual imploring to always report such incidents to the police or the administration — yet Davis continues to make this difficult by not having an online form or any way to report anonymously. Some of us have been put through the ringer by the Davis machine and aren’t so trusting that their concerns will be handled without retaliation, especially when recently administrators and campus police did nothing but look on while students were threatened for their ethnicity.

Another surprise in Katehi’s message was the reference to Kristallnacht. Despite writing about the noose during the Students of Color Conference in 2011, Katehi made no mention of the swastikas that also appeared at the time, despite it also being the same month as Kristallnacht.

This might have something to do with the growing concerns of Jewish students, as summarized in Jewish Students Uncomfortable on Campus. It’s not uncommon to hear anti-Semitic slurs, stereotyping or rhetoric on campus. However, I bet Jewish students would appreciate having police and administrators actually take action when they are present when Jewish students are harassed and assaulted on campus or even neutral observers are stalked and harassed for supporting free speech of Jewish students, instead of just throwing a passing reference in an email that wasn’t meant to be read.

Hate incidents are frequent in Davis, but residents persistently advocate keeping them hidden rather than addressing the issues. This is despite expert presentations as well as statistics showing that this “ignore it” approach DOES NOT WORK. Some residents even go so far as to insinuate these incidents are perpetrated by the victims themselves! Rather than face the serious hate problems that Davis has, the residents instead choose to blame and bash the victims and make spurious claims that the the folks in the city who will to stand up to this are just, in the words of resident Elaine Roberts Musser the “noisy racism bandwagon.” Elaine Roberts Musser argues for the rights of the elderly, of which she is a member, but when it comes to other maligned groups, where she has no experience with the daily ‘death by a thousand cuts’ microaggressions we face, we’re all just the ‘noisy racism bandwagon’ who in her own words are personally attacking her. This is the common pro-oppression derailment of blaming the minorities and their allies for daring to stand up against the racist institutional structure we face every day. Davisites like Elaine Roberts Musser need to make it all about them. The reality of the situation is unfathomable to them and they have no interest, no compassion to make it better for those of us who weren’t born so fortunate and face much worse than what she considers a personal attack every day we’re here.

You can see more of Elaine Roberts Musser’s ignorant rants in the comments here: http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5469:tensions-heighten-as-swastika-and-qnq-word-found-spray-painted-under-i-80-underpass&Itemid=87  Also in the article comments we see poster “Octane 91” calling Jann Murray-Garcia a racist for explaining statistics that show the majority of these crimes are conducted by white males.

Elaine Roberts Musser represents a loud and pervasive segment of the Davis community:

Poster “Growth Izzue” complains that the hate vandalism and racial slurs that appeared at UC Davis during the anniversary of the civil rights movement would be “blown way out of proportion.” Even if “Growth Izzue” isn’t bothered by slurs scrawled all over the learning environment during a symbolic time, you would think he would at least be concerned about the cost of 31 broken windows. See comments here: http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7592:uc-davis-officials-investigating-incident-as-hate-crime&catid=63:law-enforcement&Itemid=114

When a swastika was burned into a table at the local middle school, several residents, including Ryan Kelly, Alan Miller, “rusty49” and “dlemongello,” claimed it was not a hate crime, that talking about it was an “overreaction”, and that it was just bored kids. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrators were bored kids or not. This behavior is still unacceptable and Davis should take these incidents seriously rather than just brushing them under the rug. Steve Hayes tries to claim it is a false flag, again going with the ridiculous belief that all hate crimes are really performed by victims in order to show evidence of something that doesn’t happen. Steve Hayes convinces himself and like-minded Davis resident that these crimes don’t happen despite evidence. (Elaine Roberts Musser is also in the thread again claiming we should just ignore them despite the word of experts.) See: http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5521:swastika-burned-into-holmes-jr-high-picnic-table&Itemid=87

When a noose was hung from the goalpost at a local high school during the Juneteenth celebration (for freedom and emancipation from slavery), again Davis residents rushed to claim no hate. Commenters included “Frankly” (Jeff Boone), Phil Coleman, and “rusty49”. Jeff Boone and “rusty49” again try to claim this must have been done by one of the vicitms: in the words of Jeff Boone, “the work of some race-obsessed social activist frustrated by the lack of genuine evidence of racial hate.” I run into this kind of rhetoric all the time from Davis residents or UC Davis staff/faculty when I try to report very real experiences I have had at Davis, some of which have MATERIALLY disrupted progress in my studies. It’s really hard to get things done when your paperwork just “disappears” and the person handling it has called you a slur under their breath. See: http://davisvanguard.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5462:noose-discovered-hanging-from-goalpost-at-davis-high-stadium-has-public-officials-concerned&catid=54:law-enforcement&Itemid=87&cpage=30

There are some good people in Davis, but time and time again when I read about these incidents, the majority of voices go to all the usual derailment tricks. They try to minimize the importance of what occurred and turn the conversation back to how difficult their lives are because minorities and allies are being vocal about having to deal with hate. They consider these issues minor when they don’t realize how many minor incidents go unreported because we see what their reactions are to the incidents with physical evidence and some of the most offensive symbolism.