Following Richard Spencer’s UF talk, Ohio State declines his speech on their campus
White nationalist duo Richard Spencer and Cameron Padgett are salty. They are salty America racially and ethnically diversifies at an irreversible rate, that everybody does not revere and sustain the creation of whiteness the way they do, and that global competition does not just reward white mediocrity. They are also salty that Ohio State University declined to extend space to Spencer for hate speech about racial separation, as a means to implicitly gird up racial subjugation, for mostly Black, but also Brown people.
They are so salty that Padgett sought legal counsel to sue for the right to give white power speeches – on the heels of violent and deadly clashes in Charlottesville. They are so salty that a large predominantly white university like OSU, where they would love to recruit spineless racists to their flock, decided against highlighting the kinds of speech that inspired three young white men to drive from Texas to the University of Florida – crossing states and time zones during a work and school week – to threaten peaceful protesters, via words and, through an actual gunshot, with death.
Ohio State’s decision makes sense. Public universities do not have to extend space to speakers who place their communities in imminent harm. They do not have to assume suffocating costs to protect the community from miserly men who gladly expend about $10,500 just to be drowned out with chants, like “F*ck you, Spencer!” and “Go home, Spencer!”, while racking up at least $600,000 in security costs.
While I am grateful that Gainesville, Florida suffered comparatively less harm from Spencer and crew than Charlottesville, and doubly proud of the people who took him and his followers to task, I opted not to risk it. At UF, leaders suspended some campus activities and some professors made classes optional on Thursday, given the likelihood that violence skewed toward discrete minority populations could ensue.
The day before Spencer spoke, I packed, fueled my car and fled for a few days (passing a police presence unlike anything I have seen in the city). Several other people of color I know, especially identifiably Black folks, either left Gainesville or steered clear of UF’s campus Thursday. A brown Latino man I spoke with last Tuesday said he would not work that Thursday and would likely not leave his home.
My mama pragmatically encouraged all three of her Gainesville-living Black millennials to separate ourselves from high risks of harm at the hands of people with little or nothing to lose. “When your twenty-somethings come home because of a natural disaster, like Hurricane Irma, you are grateful for safe harbor,” she said. “When your twenty-somethings come home because of a man-made disaster, like a white nationalist, you wonder what era we live.”