By Senator Lena C. Taylor
“For those who seek to tell us ‘Don’t believe your lying eyes,” while professing that we have moved beyond racism, here is yet another example of the work that remains to be done, in this state and nation, on issues of race, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).”
This was the opening line of a statement that I released last week, concerning the recent racially-charged incident on the University of Wisconsin -Whitewater campus. After learning that a swastika and slogans like “Tread or Die” and “Blood Tribe” were projected onto the front of a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater dorm, I was compelled to make my frustration with the situation known.
Reading further about the issue, I also know that chants such as “We are everywhere. There will be blood, blood, blood,” were spouted along with other incendiary racialized comments.
However, while the abhorrent behavior of the perpetrators was certain, I was a little uneasy with the university’s response. While many of the expected and right things were said, the reaction required you to listen with a third ear and look with third eye.
The reported lack of security surveillance video from the campus was shocking. Given all that we have seen transpire on college campuses, I just expected that the school would have been able to pinpoint who these bad actors were. Actually, it was a student’s cell camera that obtained images of 4 men, outfitted in matching red sweatshirts, black pants and yelling about “white men” and saying “We are everywhere. There will be blood, blood, blood.”
Local authorities seemed to be familiar with a group known as “Blood Tribe” who seemed to match the description of those that descended on Whitewater’s campus. There have been other reported sightings in the state and around the country. There was talk of stepped up security, but in the days since the event, some students have reached out to say they are concerned that the response is merely lip-service.
There are red flags, white hoods, tiki torches and Khaki pants springing up across the country. Racial animus is real and many of the bearers of this brand of hate go unchecked. We don’t have to do the “what if” game. You know what if these were Black Panther Party members, Black Lives Matter, or any other group terrorizing college campuses. The reaction would be swift and decisive.
According to a study recently released from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, in some larger urban cities hate crimes are up by 200%. It was no surprise when the United States was reported to have seen its “highest-ever distribution of white supremacist propaganda last year, jumping 38 percent” per data collected by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
We know there is a surge in hate activity and we know college campuses are being targeted. It doesn’t seem like some institutions are really paying enough attention to these trends and putting systems in place to inform the students and faculty, of potential threats before they show up at their campus door. We must do better, be more proactive and work harder to secure our campuses.