Editorial: Tufts must not normalize hate by remaining silent

For the second November in a row, white nationalist posters have appeared on Tufts’ Medford/Somerville campus. One sticker with the phrase “It’s okay to be white” was found last week by the Daily on N. Hill Road, and a photo of another was shared on Facebook by a member of the Tufts community. Though this particular form of white nationalism is unfortunately not new to Tufts, this demonstration of ignorance follows many other acts of hate that have taken place on campus this semester, including incidents of antisemitism, homophobia and anti-black racism. While last week’s vandalism was not necessarily targeted at a particular group, it is still a cause for deep concern on this campus, especially considering the lack of response from Tufts’ leadership.

Last November, similar posters were found plastered to signs put up by JumboVote and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life before the 2018 midterm elections. In response to that event, Tufts University President Anthony Monaco sent an email to members of the Tufts Community condemning such incidents of “hate and division” and TUPD began an investigation. Similar messages by the administration have been sent out in the wake of more recent acts of hate and have been followed by investigations by the Tufts Office for Equal Opportunity. Any sort of public denunciation or investigation of the recent events, however, has yet to occur. 

As the Daily has noted in previous reporting, the slogan “It’s okay to be white” first appeared on the internet forum 4chan, and there can be no doubt that its use is racist, or at least biased. Of course, Tufts’ recently developed Bias Response Teams were designed to tackle incidents like these, but included in the administration’s silence on the issues is a lack of communication about Bias Response Teams — their status or their response. With tensions heightened this semester after many disturbing incidents of hate, there should be no hesitation on the part of the Tufts administration when it comes to condemning white supremacy.

“It’s okay to be white” perpetuates the false idea that whites are marginalized and in need of protection. It neglects centuries of white oppression and dominance in American society. This idea is discriminatory, ignorant and false. The slogan endangers historically marginalized groups who are coming closer to attaining the rights and spaces to which they are entitled. It also rejects the notion of equality, suggesting that equal rights and opportunities for people of color infringe upon the rights of white people. This winner-takes-all worldview is deeply flawed and supports notions of white supremacy; defending the rights and freedoms of people of color does not equate to denying white people their rights and freedoms. Equality for all creates a more equitable and just society.

The Tufts administration should formally address and denounce this incident. It should demonstrate that these acts of hate will not be normalized and reinforce that hate has no place on campus. It is critical that the community remains aware of these actions and does not become desensitized to the harm that they inflict. Administrators should also share updates about the Bias Response Teams and communicate whether the incident has been acknowledged or is under investigation. Substantial action is required to continue the fight for equality and maintain forceful denunciation of hate.

In the face of university inaction, the Tufts community will remain strong and united, and together we can work to ensure that those who share vicious slogans fail in their attempts to spread hate. We must continue to extend compassion and support to those who are harmed by systemic racism and incidents of hate.