Recently there have been posters put up on campus expressing racist, anti-Jewish, white supremacist messages.
Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. There is a long history of racist, anti-Jewish, white supremacist graffiti and postering both on the UVic campus and in the wider community. We understand that extremist views such as those on the posters that just went up is part of a much broader, deeper continuum of white supremacy, racism, and antisemitism woven into the fabric of Canadian society. Dealing with harassment and hatred is an everyday experience for many people of colour and Jewish people here, and Indigenous people have been dealing with the violence of Canada’s colonization for over 150 years.
Often when there are waves of more visible, more extreme, more explicitly hateful campaigning such as this, people make grand but ultimately empty statements about not tolerating hatred. There are many possible responses to these posters but above all else AVP wants to encourage a deepening of commitment to end white supremacy and its attendant structural, institutionalized, and interpersonal violence and domination. These posters are just one facet of deeper problems on campus and in society at large.
We support people engaging with the posters in ways that express care, support, and solidarity for those most impacted. Some people who are impacted will want to take the posters down and we wholeheartedly support that action. Others may want to counter the hatred with messages countering white supremacy and antisemitism, and providing tools for discussion and reflection. Some folks may feel that the most important thing is to offer peer support and community care. We can all do something.
To people harmed by these posters: We care for you. We mourn with you. We will be there with and for each other in the face of violence. We know that this comes on top of a lifetime of cumulative micro- and macro-aggressions, overt and covert violence, and that at times it can feel overwhelming. Please talk with someone who you trust if you are hurting. Some on-campus options for support include the Native Students’ Union (NSU) and the Student of Color Collective (SOCC), the Anti-Violence Project, and UVic’s Counselling Services.
To the people who put up these posters: Even though your actions pain us, you also are part of our communities. We recognize from the messages you’ve conveyed that you are scared and angry. The ways you are expressing that, and the harm that you are causing, are not OK. And we believe that people can change and do better. We know many people who were once part of neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups come to regret their actions. If you have sincere intention we are willing to find folks who can support you to work through what is happening inside you.
The AVP team of staff and volunteers