Colleges Must Fight White Supremacy

PHENOM’s statement on the Charlottesville attacks.

Photo: VA Students Act Against White Supremacy defend themselves in Charlottesville.

America’s racist hatred and white supremacy exploded on the University of Virginia campus this weekend. Students fought back. Youth stood up to hate. Educators and faith leaders said that young anti-fascist protectors kept them from being, as Dr. Cornel West said, “crushed like cockroaches” by neo-Nazis.

White hate and violence is not new in this country. This is the America we live in. But we can only change it by fighting for justice, preventing violence against marginalized people and opposing the repugnant ideologies of white supremacy and anti-Semitism.

Neo-Nazis and white supremacists attacked a college campus for a reason. They know that, for however imperfect and infected by racism our public colleges and universities are, students and youth on our campuses are the best hope for opposing their hatred and violence. Yet we still have so much work to do to address white supremacy in our schools and our communities.


Our Ville Stands with Your Ville: Wednesday, August 16, 6PM | Somerville, MA
Charlottesville is a Call to Action: Wednesday, August 16, 7PM | Northampton, MA
Fight Supremacy! Boston Counter-Protest & Resistance Rally: Saturday, August 19, 10:30AM | Boston Common
Stand for Solidarity: Saturday, August 19, 11AM | Mass. State House
(Forward additional events to

On Monday, a young man smashed the Boston Holocaust Memorial, the second time it was attacked this summer. Racists rallied with Joe Arpaio this June in Belchertown. The white supremacists who attacked Charlottesville plan to descend on Boston Common this Saturday. And none of these isolated incidents begin to capture the hateful words, experiences and actions that Black, Asian, Latinx, Muslim, Jewish, LGBT and immigrant students on all of our campuses face every single day.

This is not a problem for other people to solve. This is our crisis, and it’s up to students, staff members, faculty, alumni and our larger campus communities to address it. We have made some small efforts, but we can no longer ignore the scope of this crisis or the dangerous consequences of continued apathy and ignorance.

Right-wing extremists would silence students, faculty and staff on our campuses. In many cases, they have already succeeded. In Massachusetts, our public colleges have put harsh limits on the right of students and the community to gather in public spaces and fight to defend their rights. Right-wing attacks on university professors in other states have caused some to be fired for stating the facts about white supremacy and racist hatred.

With Donald Trump as their leader, white supremacists feel empowered. It’s up to us to defeat a resurgent white supremacist movement and to finally begin to purge white supremacy from our institutions, especially from our public colleges and universities.

As a movement, PHENOM stands for more than just free public college and well-funded, well-staffed campuses. We stand for every person’s right to education, and that means making sure that Black, Latinx, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, LGBT and immigrant students aren’t subjected to racism or hate from their peers or from the institutions they attend. There are no simple solutions, but being honest about the reality of white supremacy is a start. Openly stating that Black Lives Matter is a start.

We will stand against hate in Boston this Saturday. Thousands of people plan to oppose any attempt by white supremacists to spread their hate and violence. We hope you will join us.

Kim Selwitz, President
Amy Blanchette, Vice President
Colleen Avedikian, Clerk
Zac Bears, Executive Director
Sydney Little, Organizing Director