The Day After the Walkout: Internet Battles   1 comment

Hey, they stole my headline. Disappointed in the both of us.

So the dust is settling on the previous series of events, and a new stage is being set. The “Compton Cookout” and its organizers fall farther out of the focus as UCSD’s alleged status as a “a white-supremacist, racist, classist, misogynist, institution” gains more momentum. The individual “Cookout” and “Koala” events are starting to fade into the backdrop of an institutionalized problem. The shift in focus shows determination and adroit understanding of the racial climate.

No one’s denying that yesterday’s walkout rally led by the BSU was powerful and demonstrated solidarity. But questions are out there, and the media and internet have factionalized into separate groups. The BSU and its supporters are the most visible and united faction and is expanding its voice beyond on campus events onto the internet. News and media organizations already have an established entity, so their voices will be considered singular.

I don’t know who runs the Stop Racism UCSD WordPress blog, but I’ve found it to be the most focused blog in solidarity with the BSU. Up to the minute updates, letters and exerpts from many different sources. Pretty well-run and well-organized blog.

I want to rely heavily on the UCSD Guardian, but can’t seem to do so. Today they ran a pro-affirmative action editorial which is the opinion they have chosen and to which they have a right. It appears to be inline with one of the BSU demands that  “the University increase the African-American populations in all areas of the campus…” Clearly, there’s no magic, instantaneous, way to meet this demand, and affirmative action is always controversial, and under California Proposition 209, illegal in this state.

In the Guardian’s main news article, titled Teach-In Walks Out, I was disappointed that only the last half of the article gets into the details of the walkout rally. It also failed to describe the celebratory tone of the walkout rally and had an anemic few quotes from walkers out. I don’t believe the student newspaper can afford to not deliver more key facts and deliver more inside opinions. I’m disappointed in today’s Guardian issue and its coverage of yesterday’s events.

But the real battle is occurring online, and since students spend so much time on Facebook, on Facebook in particular. The “Racism, Not In Our Community” Facebook group has almost 1,500 members, but no activity since Tuesday. It’s a joke. It is the “Diversity: Not In Our Community” group. A complete failure.

The Make UCSD accountable to the demands set forth by UCSD BSU group has attracted closer to 1,400 Facebook users, not all of them supporters, but that goes for just about any group on Facebook. Plenty of discussion from many viewpoints is active on the group’s wall, not all of it positive. I can’t agree that all of the BSU’s demands are reasonable, feasible, fundable, legal, or within their immediate realm. I will give credit that their demands are not in response to individual incidents, but again, the institutional bias against them. I am interested to see how the BSU responds to accusations of “reverse racism”, economic constraints, and constitutionality of some of their demands.

In opposition to that Facebook group is the UCSD students against the demands of the UCSD BSU group, but weighing in only at around 300 members. This group waxes sarcastic and mean-spirited and will surely fall under criticism of the BSU. There are legitimate concerns about the BSU’s demands, but to attack them with ridicule and cold sarcasm are not necessarily the best way to address these concerns. What interests me about this group most, since I don’t believe it raises concerns I didn’t already myself consider and presents them in an immature way, is the Asian element.

The “Compton Cookout” saga has thus far been a BSU vs. certain white students, primarily white alternative newspaper, and “white supremacist” institution. We can’t forget that about 44% of the undergraduate population is Asian. That’s 44% that don’t have an immediate racial stake in this issue and a good chunk of them probably aren’t sure why they should care either way. When you throw affirmative action or the possibility and support thereof, into the mix, that’s a sure way to anger the Asians. They’re always left out of the affirmative action equation and are judicially considered to “not need the help”, and they have a legitimate argument that they get the short end of the stick when and where affirmative action does get implemented.

I can guarantee you that nowhere near 44% of the walkout rally participants yesterday were Asian, I would stake it at under 10%, and that’s because they don’t care or don’t support the BSU’s demands. They are a very important and massive population at UCSD and probably feel completely ignored. That’s not a deft move on either side of the issue. College students in general, and stereotypically, Asians especially, spend hours upon hours a day on the internet, and if the Asians feel ignored or threatened, they will lash out online.

I keep repeating that the focus has shifted from individual incidents to institutional change. I believe this is the way the conversational current is moving, and that many strategies and considerations will be adjusted to that. Asians are a giant portion of this institution though, and their allegiance or any type of -pathy has not been courted, and I believe has not been seriously considered. Many of the BSU’s demands are serious concerns and some call for a higher level of scrutiny. The shift has not only gone from racist events to institutional change, it will, like everything else today, become more and more of an internet battle.

Many different factions, not just any main two, will fight for internet supremacy of their point of view and agenda. This will be worth watching, but the BSU holds and will take full advantage of the on-campus demonstration mobilization, which will determine the online discourse. The internet battles over this issue will be as petty and mean as any other internet battles out there, so it would probably be wise not to react with emotional outrage to an anonymous troll. This aspect of the “Cookout” saga is only in the earlier stages of development and will become a key component of it all, so establishing dominance now could be very important.


Posted February 25, 2010 by Wada in Compton Cookout, UCSD, UCSD Teach In, UCSD Walkout

One response to “The Day After the Walkout: Internet Battles

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  1. I will tell you what I have seen these last few days, I saw people from different backgrounds, my children, my brothers and sisters come together in solidarity, and got the message heard.

    This reminds me of a parable from the good book where a Levite and Priest come upon a man who fell among thieves and they both individually passed by and didn’t stop to help him. Finally a man of another race came by, he got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy and got down with the injured man, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

    You see, the Levite and the Priest were afraid, they asked themselves, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?”

    But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

    That’s the question before us. The question is not, “If I stop to help my brother in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help my brother, what will happen to him or her?” That’s the question.

    God bless all my brothers and sister that stood side by side with our brothers and sisters in need, when you saw a wrong you tried to correct it, you may argue the methods but not the reasons. I know God will not discriminate by country of origin, our sex, our orientation, color of our skin, or our religion as men do.

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