As a blogger, I take pride in my ability to deliver quality coverage at no cost to my readers. It’s exciting, too. Who knows what I’ll find when I check the comments! Sometimes I find incisive commentary by another academic, or perhaps a brief message of support.
And sometimes there’s a white supremacist asking me for a lunch date.
In that particular post, I examined Scott Terry’s racist comments at CPAC and his affiliation to a xenophobic and highly patriarchal fringe movement called Christian reconstructionism. Terry is in the news again, thanks to his membership in the White Students Union (WSU) at Towson University. A caveat: the WSU is not officially affiliated with Towson, it is an informal organization, and until its members engage in active hate speech or hate crime the university can do little about its presence on campus. However, the WSU seems prepared to give the university that long-awaited excuse. In response to a series of reported crimes on and off campus, the WSU announced that its members would be patrolling campus on a nightly basis. Not to worry, people of Towson. Scott Terry and his compatriot, Matt Heimbach, are here to protect you–if you’re white. From the official statement:
“For those who are not Towson students it seems hard to fathom that every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body.”
According to the most recent data available, 12, 082 of Towson’s 17, 988 undergraduate students are white. So yes, white students are by far the majority demographic on campus. But this indicates that the group is hardly under threat from a spate of unrelated crimes committed by members of a minority group. Nor is there any evidence that white students are being targeted specifically for their race, as the WSU implies in its statement. Racially motivated crimes are considered hate crimes, and federal data on hate crimes portrays an America quite different from the one imagined by Heimbach and Terry. There is ample evidence that nationally, whites are far more likely to criminally target blacks. If you expand the category to total rates of criminality, it is certainly true that black Americans, especially black men, are more likely than white Americans to face incarceration. However, the NAACP reports that black Americans are incarcerated at a rate six times that of white Americans, and when racial disparities in drug use and sentencing are considered, the statistics reveal an undeniable pattern of racial injustice.
Brief summary? As a class, white Towson students aren’t in danger from roaming black criminals. This is a mythology created and perpetuated by white supremacists. Obviously, this isn’t news to those of us familiar with reality. It’s most certainly not news if you happen to be black. I’m repeating it here because it’s evidently necessary, and because I am white, which means I am not exhausted from fighting institutionalized racial oppression on a daily basis and therefore have the emotional energy to remind my fellow whites to check their damn privilege.
Moving on. The WSU goes on to add sexism to this potent brew of ignorance:
“The virtue of white Christian womanhood is under attack at Towson University by degenerate criminals seeking to rob our women of their God given innocence.”
The statement goes on to reveal that female WSU members will be required to undergo self defense training, and will be escorted to and from class by their male peers. If this emphasis on the innocence and virtue of white women sounds familiar, that’s probably because you’ve heard it before. Possibly in history class.
This white girl says no thanks, even to this bit of generosity from the men of the WSU:
“White Southern men have long been called to defend their communities when law enforcement and the State seem unwilling to protect our people.”
As a native of Appalachia, a survivor of domestic violence (perpetuated by my white Southern father) and an abusive relationship (with a white boyfriend), you’ll excuse me if I’m somewhat dubious about the innate chivalry of white Southern men. It is, in fact, a fantasy. This is particularly true for black women in the South, subject to centuries of rape and abuse by white from the antebellum period onward. There is a reason bell hooks speaks of a killing rage in response to white supremacy.
It is a matter of time before these patrols escalate into blatant hate crime. For that reason, I urge Towson students to be vigilant on behalf of minorities on campus. Use this situation as an opportunity to educate yourself about white privilege, hate crime, and other facets of institutionalized racial oppression in the US. And it is my sincere hope that this is the last time Scott Terry appears in the news.