A “Students of Color” conference at the University of California Irvine in late November descended into chaos as attendees couldn’t agree on which students of color were experiencing the greatest oppression from an “anti-blackness” establishment.
Reports of the fractured conference were limited to a few Facebook shares until this week. According to the College Fix, the trouble all began when students arrived on Nov. 19 to discover the conference had already adopted a theme and that was to focus on the particular struggles of African-Americans against racism. Students not identifying as African-American immediately began arguing that other ethnic groups of color suffered equal or greater discrimination.
What was described by event organizers as a “safe place” became a very angry one at one well-attended workshop. Some students demanded to know why “anti-blackness” seemed to be the only issue on the agenda when, they argued, Muslims are exposed to greater discrimination and subject to bombing in the Middle East.
Later, the UC Irvine Student’s Association, responsible for the ethnic dialogue, cancelled some “break-out” sessions, where conference participants could discuss issues informally, due to fears that they could break into more fighting.
Finally, a mass demonstration was called-off because students again couldn’t agree on what to demonstrate against. Some even balked at repeating the chant that they were asked to recite at the planned protest.
Disappointed students shared their grief over the conference’s breakdown on the student association’s Facebook page.
Student Robert Gardner expressed his unhappiness over the “trauma some of the organizers made…It was really hurtful to have other marginalized identities silenced because a small fringe of organizers decided that their oppressions are more important (talk about Oppression Olympics)…”
Gardner added that he did not “appreciate one of the organizers calling my friend a bitch because of the chants she was told to say.”
Manny Quintero, another participating student suggested: “Hey next time remember, all lives matter, it’s the most inclusive slogan outthere (sic).”