Three years ago today on Dec 6, 2016, the neo Nazi and white nationalist Richard Spencer came to speak on our campus. I remember vividly our silent protests, loud/musical protests, the Aggies Unite event at the football stadium, and the counter-talk on free speech and whiteness by Dr. Wendy Moore that I helped organize at Rudder Tower.
This experience had a profound impact on me personally and on us broadly at Texas A&M. It gave me the impetus to continue connecting my lived experience with my research and to work hard to make our campuses and the community broadly more inclusive and safe for minoritized students.
Participating in these student-led protests led me to write this applied communication piece about my experiences from a theory-driven perspective that discusses the differences between neoliberal multiculturalism and decolonial perspectives on anti-racism pedagogy.
This piece "White nationalist rhetoric, neoliberal multiculturalism, and colorblind racism: Decolonial critique of Richard Spencer’s campus visit," co-authored with my student Caitlin Miles, was published in Javnost: The Public, 25(4), 426-444 in 2018.
I spoke about the protests and our activism at the 2018 TAMU RISE (Race, Identity and Social Equity) conference, which was an excellent opportunity.
We also presented about these protests against neo-Nazis at the International Communication Association in Prague, Czech Republic last summer. Another piece I presented was the misrepresentation of Sikh-Americans in U.S. media. Ironically, a couple of my close friends who identify as women of color were subject to two separate racist incidents near the conference hotel on two different days ( they were spat on, called the n word, and followed into a restaurant).
This is why the work we do is so important. We strive continuously to make our spaces safer and more welcoming for those considered "other," "different" and historically marginalized - be it our conferences, campuses, or communities.