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No to white supremacy sign

How to Combat White Supremacy

Online workshop held to educate faculty and staff

Kristen Walsh

The Anti-Defamation League reported that distribution of white supremacist propaganda more than doubled in 2019 over the previous year. As part of its Community Learning Conference, Bentley held a workshop for faculty and staff on combating white supremacy on college campuses. The webinar was hosted by Jess Sumney, student success coordinator for Student Equity and Inclusion, and Vania Pereira, program coordinator of the Multicultural Center.

“It’s something we want to think can’t happen here, but it’s important to resist that inclination,” said Sumney. “If we are not acknowledging the way these hate groups work on our campus, then we can’t address and respond to the harm it’s causing.”

The workshop highlighted the Southern Poverty Law Center’s definition of a hate group as “an organization that based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders or its activities, has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League
, dozens of white supremacist groups distributed propaganda last year, but three groups – Patriot FrontAmerican Identity Movement and the New Jersey European Heritage Association – were responsible for approximately 90 percent of the activity. Recruitment tactics can include campus flyers, social media, podcasts, and extremist speakers on campus.

Supporting Black Students on a Predominantly White Campus

Incidents at Bentley during the past two decades include the display of a confederate flag and a Patriot Front poster, the drawing of a swastika and the destruction of a PRIDE poster (People Respecting Individuality and Diversity through Education).

“Being aware and catching incidents early are the foundations of effective intervention,” said Pereira.

Strategies to Fight White Supremacy

  • Ensure adequate wellness care for students who are harmed by white supremacy on campus
  • Do not ignore these incidents
  • Ensure transparency within the community
  • De-escalate any situations early rather than waiting
  • Be a trustworthy and approachable resource for students
  • Collect evidence when it is safe to do so
  • Understand the groups involved and their methods
  • Establish policies that emphasize the culture we are trying to promote and implement consequences for hate speech

The workshop, which was part of three days of online, interactive webinars for faculty and staff, also highlighted the positive work of identity and advocacy groups at Bentley, including Africana Student Association, Asian Students Association, Black United Body, Brazilian Students Society, Cape Verdean Student Association, International Student Association, Korean Students Association, La Società Italiana di Bentley, People Respecting Individuality and Diversity through Education, and Students Advocating Gender Equality.

Confronting anti-Asian Racism