You can tolerate racism as long as it serves a larger purpose?
College Fix readers may remember we featured an Ohio University student-run parody show that made fake Twitter accounts for each campaign in student elections.
One of the presidential candidates, Ryant Taylor, had complained on the parodists’ Facebook page that they hadn’t asked for permission.
Now Taylor’s own campaign page on Facebook has come under fire for allowing racist pictures to remain up for several days, and marginalizing the critic who pointed them out.
It has to do with a rally Taylor helped organize against the school’s leasing of a new residence for President Roderick McDavis, who along with his wife is black. Taylor helped administer the rally’s Facebook page:
However, the page was quickly hijacked by members outside of the Student Union with memes that portrayed President McDavis in an extremely racialized manner. These photos played on the historical themes of animalizing Black men, sexualizing Black men, and criminalizing Black men. While these photos were extremely problematic, they garnered many “likes” and comments from several members of the Student Union, staff members of OU and even faculty members/professors.
I was shocked to see that these photos were not only allowed to remain on the page through the weekend leading up to the BAT RALLY, but encouraged other photos to be placed, including one which placed Deborah McDavis riding an elephant, playing up numerous tropes that connects Blacks with Africa and serves to animalize Black people.
The Student Union, which is all about “ending institutionalized racism, sexism, trans-phobia, [and] homophobia,” responded harshly to Serrott’s public criticism on Facebook, Serrott said.
Taylor allegedly told Serrott that he was “conflicted with the images himself, but ultimately decided not to do anything about it”:
He went on to tell me that he would have preferred that I sent him or another event organizer a private Facebook message instead of “causing drama” on the page.
Another administrator, Jessica Ensley – previously featured by The Fix for her demand that the school ban Yik Yak for its “misogyny, racism and bullying” – echoed Taylor:
She expressed to me in her message that she also thought that the photos were racist, including the one she posted depicting Deborah McDavis riding an elephant. Despite her unease with how the photo portrays racist tropes, she expressed to me that she posted it anyway and did not publically call out racism on the page because she “didn’t want to take away from the message of the rally.”
Serrott claims his post that “stirred drama” was deleted from the Facebook page and that the racist photos were only removed “several days after” he called them out:
I am fully convinced that had I not said anything publically, the photos would not have been removed and no such statement about not condoning racism would have been issued.
What is even more problematic is that Ryant was willing to allow racism in order to further the cause of his own belief. This is unacceptable behavior and rhetoric for a potential future leader of Student Senate. Ryant, and those on the ticket who are also members of the Student Union, must be held accountable for their actions.
Man, student elections are fun!
IMAGE: Ben Siegel/Ohio University