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University of Georgia Officials Don't Think the School Has a Major Racism Problem. Students Disagree

Illustration for article titled University of Georgia Officials Dont Think the School Has a Major Racism Problem. Students Disagree
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Last week, The Root reported that the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at the University of Georgia was suspended and is under investigation after a Black student exposed a group chat by frat members that devolved into a blatant display of racism, misogyny and homophobia. Well, it turns out that the Lambda Chi Alpha scandal may only be the tip of UGA’s bigoted iceberg as Black and Hispanic students and organizations continue to insist that the university has not done enough to respond to discrimination complaints.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that just a few days after UGA junior Arianna Mbunwe pulled all kinds of receipts exposing bigoted texts and comments from Lambda Chi Alpha members, former UGA football player Otis Reese posted a long message to Twitter recalling his experiences at UGA.

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In an eight-paragraph statement, Reese complained that the racism he experienced at UGA—which he said include constant harassment by campus police and racial slurs used by white students—“took a devastating mental toll” on him.

“From the first moment I stepped on campus, it was not what I expected,” Reese wrote. “The racist events that I kept experiencing weighed heavy on me and seemed never ending.”

According to AJC, another former UGA football player, Cade Mays, made similar claims against the university last month.

Then there was the incident in early September where UGA’s Hispanic Student Association Zoom meeting was interrupted by several white men who yelled expletives and racial slurs, mocked the Spanish language and showed an explicit photo on the group’s video screen. The students weren’t happy with the way UGA responded to that incident either.

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From AJC:

In the case of the “Zoom-bombing” of the Hispanic Student Association meeting, UGA’s student affairs office said it has been unable to determine who crashed the video meeting because software companies such as Zoom do not share internet addresses of those using their platforms.

“The university has once again disappointed us,” the Hispanic student group said. “We are tired of broken promises and empty statements.”

UGA’s student affairs office responded in a letter that included an apology.

Still, officials at UGA responded to Reese, Mbunwe and others’ complaints by maintaining that it “disputes any suggestion that it maintains an unsafe, unsupportive, or racially insensitive environment.”

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Those officials should probably try telling that to the more than 200 protesters who marched on and around UGA’s campus Friday “demanding continuous diversity training for campus police, renaming buildings whose names have racist origins and other actions,” AJC reports.

Among the protesters was Mbunwe, who said in an interview that she was undeterred by the backlash she received after exposing the Lambda Chi Alpha chapter.

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“I want people to know that they can call me names, attack me, tell me I’m wrong, but I’m not giving up until Black and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] students get the same experience as our white peers on this campus,” Mbunwe said.

Correction: 10/1/2020, 2:24 p.m. ET: Former UGA football player Cade Mays, who is white, left the team because of a “toxic environment.” An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated his race. The story has been updated.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

Everyplace and everybody in the U.S. has a racism problem. I try my damnedest to exorcise the racism that seeped into my bones growing up white in America. You have a racism problem because people like me are not entirely successful in our efforts and because a majority of my co-melaninists won’t see it in themselves or because they actively revel in their racism.

Hell, even Black people have to look inside themselves; the “paper bag test” wasn’t that long ago. Being certain you’re not the slightest bit racist is one sure sign you’re a racist.