I am having a difficult time trying to explain what seems to be so simple. I don’t know how to explain to the Auburn University Honors College that equating the platforms of the Auburn White Student Union and Black Student Union is, at best, a tone deaf response to a series of poor decisions.
I need to make clear that this column is a response to my current understanding of unfolding events. I am open to any evolution of opinion in response to new facts or context being brought to light, but, I digress.
The Honors College recently sponsored a showing of the film “Skinheads USA.” This is not inherently problematic and is not why I am writing. The Honors College invited members of the Auburn White Student Union to speak and answer questions prior to the film — an organization with quite the reputation — giving a hate group a legitimate platform to speak from.
The Honors College doubled down on their decision by responding that they plan to invite the University-recognized and sanctioned Black Student Union in the future. This effectively conflates them with a Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League designated hate group that spews racism and xenophobia, not to mention their lack of any actual university presence or faculty sponsorship.
In fact, the University has issued a statement openly rejecting the principles of the Auburn White Student Union.
Those that argue it does not normalize their hatred: the Auburn White Student Union Twitter account quote-tweeted the Honors College announcement of the event involving WSU members with the statement: “We /establishment/ now, fam.”
It’s absurd to think that highly intelligent and qualified professionals within the Honors College did not feel compelled to conduct the simplest of Google searches from their phone to realize they had invited a hate group onto our campus — our collective home.
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You see, the difference between the WSU and BSU is that the WSU desires and advocates for a world absent of POC, LGBTQ, among a myriad of identities that don’t represent them; and the BSU desires and advocates for a world where their immutable characteristics allow them to stand on equal footing as citizens.
It is one thing to “respect” another’s opinion, but I would argue it’s fairly difficult to be friends with and sustain dialogue with groups of individuals organized around the idea that you shouldn’t exist.
I can no longer remain silent simply because marginalization does not occur at my expense. None of us can.
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