Hodge: To combat campus racial divide, white students need to be involved

Jayla Hodge

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

Last Thursday evening, Lecia Brooks, the outreach director with the Southern Poverty Law Center and Civil Rights Memorial director in Montgomery, Georgia, spoke at the “Rising Hate in America” event in the Lory Student Center. The event highlighted the rise of hate crimes across the country and how Colorado State University students can help mitigate racial bias on our own campus.

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Brooks gives presentations all around the country informing communities about the rise of active hate groups as well as promoting diversity, tolerance and inspiring student activism.

Woman speaks.
Lecia Brooks speaks about the rise of hate fueled incidents across the country. (Matt Tackett | Collegian)

This event was extremely informative, and very applicable to recent hate acts around campus. Like many college institutions around the country, CSU has seen a rise in hate crimes and incidents this year.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Colorado has 21 active hate groups, many operating out of Northern Colorado. That is the Fort Collins area and the CSU community.

The CSU administration is making a genuine effort to combat the spread of hateful ideologies and white supremacy on campus by promoting diversity and inclusion.  It is the students who can do better. Brooks emphasized the importance of involving people of all races and beliefs in the fight for equality.

“White people, you need to start talking about being white or these groups are gonna do it for you” – Lecia Brooks 

“In terms of resurgence in student activism,  this is very reminiscent of the civil rights movement,” Brooks said. “The civil rights movement, especially towards the end, was successful. One of the reasons it was successful was because it became very multi-racial, inter-religious and inter-biased.”

According to the presentation, white supremacist propaganda has increased by 250 percent and many extremist groups like white nationalist and neo-Nazis see colleges as “fertile recruiting ground.”  Brook’s indicated  that it is the majority population, white people, that can do more to combat these ideologies and keep them from spreading.

“White people, you need to start talking about being white or these groups are gonna do it for you,” Brooks said. Many social justice activists on this campus are  students of color or other marginalized identities. These are students some hate groups won’t talk to and see as enemies. This makes the exchange of constructive dialogue impossible when coming from marginalized students.  

Marginalized identities and voices should not be the only ones speaking out against these groups and their hate, racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, supremacy and other despicable ideologies. Social justice is about the inclusion of all identities working together.  If these ideologies bother you, speak out. Do something, because inaction sends a very clear message to the groups combating and being affected:  you don’t care.

Those who do nothing while witnessing injustice and wrong-doing are worse than those who are committing the acts. The privileged have a responsibility to do what they know is right. White students in the CSU community must not remain complacent.

Those who do nothing while witnessing injustice and wrong-doing are worse than those who are committing the acts. The privileged have a responsibility to do what they know is right. White students in the CSU community must not remain complacent.

Go to events like “Rising Hate in America,” and when there are peaceful demonstrations or acts of solidarity on campus don’t just pass by. Attend events in SDPS offices like the Black and African American Culture Center’s “Real Talk” that promotes cultural conversations and discussions.  Reach out to diversity and social justice groups on campus.  When you hear or see a hate crime document it. We must all band together and make sure CSU does not become a “fertile recruiting ground.”

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In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that of the good people. We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Jayla Hodge can be reached at letters@collegian.com or online at @Jaylahodge.