York students rally after racial slurs found on university campus

No white supremacy on campus.

That was the message the York University Black Students’ Alliance (YUBSA) had for the hundreds that gathered for the anti-racism rally in the school’s student centre on Jan. 24.

The rhythm of African djembe drumming ushered the group through the crowd before the rally began.

“We’re here today as a result of the hateful … not discriminatory, not prejudiced, but hateful anti-black sentiments that were written in room 402,” said YUBSA member, Naz Yigalam.

Racial graffiti was found written on an office door first on Jan. 22, and then again on Jan. 23. The messages read, ‘n—-s go back to Africa’, ‘n—-s must die’, ‘n—-s are useless’.

Another message, written in a men’s bathroom stall read, ‘white equals right, black equals jail’.

“If you thought racism was just about being discriminatory,” Yigalam said, “I think this illustrates better than anything else it’s actually white supremacy … and in this case it highlights that it’s not only white supremacy, but black inferiority.”

Students clapped, cheered and nodded heads as each speaker preached about the injustices that exist on campus.

One of the speakers at the rally told The Observer how he felt when he first learned what had happened.

“Anybody who goes to the bathroom knows that that’s written in the stalls all the time,” said Yafet Tewelde, who represents the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence.

“Any bathroom has the most racist comments you’ve seen in your life … at the end of the day, that was nothing new to me. It was amazing that they brought it to the door, but that’s what it is.”

Tewelde, who is also a York University alumni, and a former member of YUBSA, also said he’s been a target of racism many of times.

“I just do what many black people do,” he said. “You cope with it. You take it and you
move on.”

The Black Students’ Alliance was formed at York University nearly 30 years ago when other racist incidents were occurring on campus. To learn more about YUBSA go to www.yorku.ca/yubsa.