UPDATED: Art project challenging white supremacy painted over, blocked off

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Photo by Myles Sauer, Editor-in-Chief

This second iteration of an art project put together by the Third Space drew a number of comments shortly after it was repainted Thursday afternoon. Photo by Myles Sauer, Editor-in-Chief

How UVic challenges white supremacy is a topic on everyone’s minds this week after an art installation put up by the Third Space sparked debate outside the SUB.

The project — a wall made of wood and painted completely white, spray-painted with the message “How do you challenge white supremacy?” — was put up on Wednesday, March 15, just across from the rainbow crosswalk at Ring Road.

The wall was left blank to allow passersby to write their own thoughts and responses, and by Thursday morning, it was covered in messages both constructive and destructive.

“Smash the patriarchy,” read one message. “White person tax 50¢ every time you say something is spicy,” read another. Others called for supporting Indigenous land rights and sovereignty, spreading awareness and education, and being not just non-racist but anti-racist.

“That was the original intention of the piece: to start having those conversations, generating those conversations, and making people uncomfortable,” said Daphne Shaed, Third Space volunteer coordinator and one of the organizers behind the project.

Shaed had just repainted the wall when the Martlet spoke with her. “The intention was, once it got filled up to capacity, that we would paint it over,” she said. “We posed a question and want to give more people the opportunity to have that discussion.”

Some students question wall’s message

Perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone was on board with the wall’s intent.

One student who requested to remain anonymous said the wall was “aggressive” and “offensive.”

“The underlying idea [of the wall] is that white supremacy is everywhere and is oppressing people all the time, and I just don’t think that it is,” they said.

“I think it would be a better tactic to approach it as a conversation,” they said, while several conversations about the wall continued around us.

Chris Ramsden, a Political Science student who wrote on the wall that reverse racism is real, said he supports the project, but that he also supports “free speech.”

“It’s our right to say whatever we want to on there,” Ramsden said. “I don’t support any of the awful things people want to say, but . . . [the organizers are] inviting it.”

“At least 80 per cent of the people I’ve talked to were against this wall in the first place,” he continued. “I support them putting [the wall] up if they want to, but a lot of people say they shouldn’t have done it. It hasn’t really achieved much.”

None of the response was particularly surprising for Shaed. “Some of the comments that I’ve noticed outline that denial of racialized experiences,” she said. “That just highlights that [white supremacy] does exist.”

Students contemplate the wall early Thursday evening. Photo by Myles Sauer, Editor-in-Chief

Students contemplate the wall early Thursday evening. Photo by Myles Sauer, Editor-in-Chief

Cost of wall draws critics

Many students have taken to social media to criticize the wall as well, with some saying that it cost $3 000 to build. The real cost, according to Shaed, isn’t nearly as extravagant.

“We had to reduce materials due to cost and therefore shorten the length of the wall,” Shaed said, citing a $1 000 budget the Third Space had to work with. “It was $1 045 for the materials, and there was three of us doing the construction, and one doing the painting.” She said the ones building the wall were being paid, and that it came out of their work study hours.

The wall was originally supposed to be up in time for Black History Month and Indigenous Resurgence Month, “but the bureaucracy of getting all the approvals . . . delayed our timeline,” Shaed said. The wall is planned to stay up for one month anyway, and she’s prepared to repaint it again when necessary.

“I expect it’s going to fill up again,” she said. “I got three gallons of white paint and I’m probably going to go through it . . . because it’s up for a month, theoretically.”

Shaed laughed. “Unless it gets burned down.”

UPDATE March 17, 11:32 p.m.: As of this morning, the wall has been painted over and cut off with tape. Photos show that UVic groundskeeping staff were the ones painting, but we have not yet confirmed who made the decision.

A tweet from early Friday morning shows a number of racist messages were written on the wall since Thursday afternoon. A swastika is faintly visible on the wall currently.

We’re waiting for comment from the UVSS and will update when we hear back.

This story is developing.

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55 Comments

Avatar Guy

You are all racist, even the anti-white supremacists. Get over yourselves already, geeeeeeeeez.
Can you imagine a big wall that said “How do we challenge Islamic extremism?” or “How do we challenge black on black violence?” That sure would not go over well now would it? The wall was a dumb idea, and did not do anything to challenge white supremacy. What a colossal waste of money.

Avatar SoCalRepGuy

“None of the response was particularly surprising for Shaed. “Some of the comments that I’ve noticed outline that denial of racialized experiences,” she said. “That just highlights that [white supremacy] does exist.”” No, that highlights the fact that you believe you know more than others. It also highlights how close minded your are. Get off of your moral high horse.

Avatar Negroni Spumoni

Why don’t they just shut up and accept the superiority of the White race. Besides, who would you rather have ruling over you? A bunch of chinks? Dot Indians? Beans? Spear Chuckers? LMAO

Avatar Inab Sentia

As superficially ignorant as OPs statement is, actually ask yourself this question.

Would you rather life in India? Africa? South America?

Those are all actual patriarchal societies, and many of them are far more insular and racist than any Western nation.

Where on Earth that isn’t majority white outside of a few select Asian nations would you rather live?

Avatar gaelle22

So because it’s shittier somewhere else it means we shouldn’t try to improve how things are here? Do you know how stupid that argument is??

Avatar Gabriel Syme

It’s just that one wonders why someone would spend time and energy trying to drum up hysteria over a nonexistent issue in a cozy university when there are people actually suffering elsewhere.

It makes it seem as though this is just something you’re comfortable doing rather than a genuine, passion driven struggle.

Avatar gayle22

Just FYI, it’s possible for people to care about multiple things. Please don’t pretend you know what else I do, I’m actually very involved with social justice activism.

Leaving a few comments on here to try to educate clearly racist people takes me about 4 minutes on my lunch break ✌🏽

Avatar Gabriel Syme

Of course one can have multiple interests. I would only ask for evidence of actions taken by the makers of this wall to fight white supremacy where it’s a salient problem in less uncertain terms.

Re your lunch break: we all thank you for your noble sacrifice.

Avatar Tami Decolonize

yea. so dull and boring. got anything original besides cis hetero white able bodied frat boy antagonisms? YAWN

Avatar Gabriel Syme

I can literally not tell if you’re being ironic or not.

If you’re not, just a heads up that you look like a mad person.

Avatar gaelle22

“Chris Ramsden, a Political Science student who wrote on the wall that reverse racism is real, said he supports the project, but that he also supports “free speech.””

There is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism = discrimination + power. Racism operates at the systemic level and because white people hold economic, social and political power in society, they cannot be the victims of racism. Please take a sociology course or do some research before making such ignorant statements Chris. Thank you.

Someone with an MA in sociology from Uvic.

Avatar Evan448

Of course reverse racism isn’t a thing. Reverse racism is a redundant term for racism. Racism itself encompasses hate towards others, regardless of the race of the offending party.

racism: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Avatar Dubs Checkum

What about white people who don’t hold social, economic, or political power in society? Say, for example, if I’m a homeless white man with nothing to my name, can I still be a racist, even though I don’t have any power in society?

Yes, its true that white people have had advantages historically. This definition of racism is inherently problematic however as you’re assuming that just because someone is white, they automatically have access to power and influence within society. Racism, by definition, “is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” Using this definition, it is absolutely possible to be racist to white people, but that probably doesn’t fit your narrative so I can see why you left it out.

For someone with a MA I would’ve thought you would consider the counter-arguments before labeling someone’s opinion as “ignorant”.

Avatar gaelle22

A homeless white man may not have class power/privilege, but he still have white and male privilege. Yes, they can still be racist. Anyone of any race can be racist, but no one can be racist AGAINST white people.

Again, racism is about institutionalized and systemic discrimination. The fact that there are white men who are homeless doesn’t negate the fact that power (social, economic and political) at the institutional level is held by white people.

By the way, don’t use dictionary definitions for such complex sociological concepts (definitions, by the way, that were written by white men). The sociological definition of racism is not the same and aligns with what I have discussed above.

Avatar Rüdiger Thiede

If the entire argument around racism is that you can’t be racist if you’re not powerful (prejudice + power, remember), then in why can’t a rich black person be racist against a poor white person? Or are you going to change definitions again to maintain your morally and intellectually bankrupt message?

Avatar Dubs Checkum

Where did I say poor people can’t be racist? Did you even read what I wrote? Of course poor people can be racist. Anyone can be racist, but if you use the definition of “racism = prejudice + power”, certain people get excluded, namely those who don’t hold power in society. My whole point is that using that definition is problematic, as it essentially says anyone who doesn’t have societal power can’t be a racist.

Avatar Rüdiger Thiede

So let’s say there’s a place where whites are a minority and it’s not only legal to discriminate against them racially, but mandatory by law to do so. Is it still only whites who can be racist in that situation?

Avatar gaelle22

Yawn, typical argument against what I said, I’ve heard this a million times.

Where is that place then?? You forgot to think about the fact that IT DOESN’T EXIST!! (which proves my point).

Avatar Rüdiger Thiede

It does exist, I live there. South Africa, and Zimbabwe’s right next door. Ever hear of Zimbabwe? No? Not ringing any bells? Okay then.

Avatar gaelle22

I take it you admit that reverse-racism isn’t a thing in the West then. Thanks.

Avatar Rüdiger Thiede

Reverse-racism isn’t a thing anywhere. Racism is racism. But the point is, even by your odd definition, racism against whites exists in the world. (Whether you want to argue about Commonwealth nations in Africa being at least partly Western or not aside.)

If racism exists due to a power disparity, as you allege, then why can’t it exist in America if there’s a power disparity between the racist and their target? If a rich person spits on a hobo because of racial reasons, is that not racism regardless of the races of the people involved? Not to dispute how inequality works on a grander scale in the US, obviously.

Avatar the last tommy

the only way her thinking works is if you equate whiteness itself with power! in her schema even the white hobo has more power than the black millionaire along the axis of race. they could live in a city with a black mayor, black police chief, black president, etc, etc, the black would still be immune to the slur “racist”.

Avatar the last tommy

haha your white supremacist mind only considers cases in the West worth discussing?

Avatar RCG

Wow the audacity and ignorance of what you said is, unfortunately, not surprising. Also, thank you for clarifying for everyone that you have an MA in sociology, although I find it amusing that your supposed intent with that revelation was to impress anybody. Your claim that white people cannot be victims of racism is utter bullshit. I’m sorry to say, but just because your radical neo-Marxist profs shoved their dogma down your throat doesn’t make you a credible authority on what does and doesn’t constitute racism. The impetus for the slandering of somebody based on race in the vast majority of cases is completely within one’s control. Delegating the culpability of the individual to some intangible construct or notion (economy, society, political power) does absolutely nothing to solve the problem or even correctly identify the responsible party. Just because the psychopath in a position of power happens to have the same colour skin as I do does not mean that we share political, social or economic power. Your argument fails under minimal scrutiny. Try proposing an original idea/theory instead of regurgitating banal, leftist buzzwords.

Avatar gaelle22

Lol the fact that you’re denying white people hold political, social and economic power in our society shows how ignorant you are and obviously completely unable to see past your own privilege.

Avatar Inab Sentia

So if a group of blacks are roaming around assaulting white people because they’re white, and stating that they wish to eliminate white people, and that white people are inferior and should not be allowed to exist, what is that, in your opinion? Justice?

Avatar Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan

Sorry to tell you, but your sociology professors taught you some post-modernist bullshit. It’s not to late to get out

Avatar GeorgeWKushwrldpce

a phd is sociology isnt the same as a phd in math. one teaches facts and the other teaches various ideologies

Avatar SoCalRepGuy

Sociology is one of the least respected fields by true scientist. Almost nothing your field provides holds any true validity. Go ask someone like Dr. Jordan Peterson. You see, I can falsely appeal to authority as well. Does that make me correct?

Avatar gayle22

“Sociology is one of the least respected fields by true scientist. Almost nothing your field provides holds any true validity”

What a well-articulated argument! Really? Is that all you have?

Avatar SoCalRepGuy

Considering your argument is based upon the joke that is he social sciences, there is no argument needed. I am sorry you wasted so much time and money on a worthless degree. Keep talking to the uneducated masses and confuse them with your special definitions the field of sociology creates to sell their point. You can define something as racist, it does not make it true. Racism has nothing to do with “power”. It is a belief that you are superior simply because of your race.

Avatar gayle22

Racism is systemic, it’s not something that happens at the individual level. Discrimination yes, but not racism (or sexism, homophobia, etc – these are systemic). This is really basic it’s almost embarrassing having to mention it at this point.

Avatar SoCalRepGuy

You are proving my point for me. You spent how much to relearn a new definition for the word racism? It is only “basic” to the people like yourself, in denial of the truth. You cannot take a random group and just call them racist. You are changing the meaning of the word. Stop with this systemic nonsense, anyone with any sense knows it is a joke.

Avatar gayle22

Keep attacking sociology (a “useless degree” that got me a well paying job by the way) if it makes you feel better, but you have no sound argument at all.

Avatar SoCalRepGuy

My argument is plenty sound, you are just too close to the problem to see it. You are also biased as you have this degree and believe you personal story of “success” is the same for all or even most of your class mates, it isn’t. There is no practical application because it is junk science. All of this nonsense about implicit bias and you cannot even accurately measure it. I am far from attacking sociology, I am simply pointing out the obvious.

http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/dont-waste-your-time-on-these-worthless-degrees/

“At best, graduates in “useless” fields may find work in what Clarey calls “the circle of why bother” in which “the primary form of employment … is to simply re-teach it to future students.” He points out that these fields have no practical application outside of academia and, therefore, have no value in the marketplace.”

Avatar Dubs Checkum

Also, you’d think with an MA in any degree, you’d be doing something better with your time than arguing on the internet. Goes to show how far a sociology degree from Uvic will get you.

Avatar gaelle22

Actually I have a full time job (that I got thanks to my sociology degree) and I own my own business. Thanks for your concern though 🙂

Avatar FiniusFigglebottom

Outside of academia we call that masturabatory academia privileged nonsense. We have these things called dictionaries, have you heard of them?

Avatar Gabriel Syme

This “prejudice + power” formula, besides being unfaithful to the historical use of the word “racism,” forgets why racism was considered bad in the first place. Outwardly disdaining someone on the basis of their physical appearance is cruel and betrays a terrible moral defect in the individual who acts out that hatred. It isn’t bad because it’s committed by someone with power, it’s bad because it makes you a bigot. Hating white people is still bigotry, Gayle. Get your priorities in order.

Gayle is simply reminding us what a moral butchery sociology has become in recent decades.

Avatar Benjamin S

Your MA in sociology doesn’t grant you the authority to redefine words that the rest of society knows perfectly well how to use. That’s not how the English language works. This isn’t a demonstration of your superior education – it’s a demonstration of your haughtiness, and of your lack of sense.

As for “racism = discrimination + power”, the best it would do is make people of colour “powerless”, and not too immoral to be racist, but too pathetic. It’s a dehumanizing perspective, and a grossly oversimplifying one, if you don’t consider that people of colour have *any* power in our society.

Avatar gayle22

Your perspective could not be more wrong. Language and definitions matter, why would you assume that most people who have never studied complex sociological concepts have the ability to describe them or discuss them in a meaningful way? your perspective on this is laughable.

Avatar Benjamin S

Oh, you abysmally dull moron…

Yes, definitions and language matter. That’s known as a truism. However, definitions aren’t granted from on high from people in the rarefied air of academia who are able to grasp an *MA in sociology*. (Do note the sarcasm, from someone who’s spent yet more years in university than you.)

The vast majority of English-speakers agree that racism is not “prejudice + power”. It’s “prejudice or hatred based on race”, or something close to that – regardless of who’s doing the hating, and who’s hated.

Your totally unimpressive MA in sociology doesn’t grant you the authority to change the language – to change the definition of “racism”.

Avatar gayle22

The Martlet seems to prevent me from responding, but hopefully my response will show later.

Avatar gayle22

1. Resorting to ableist insults will not get you anywhere, it only makes you look bad.

2. You have no idea how many years I’ve spent in university, please stop assuming things about people that you don’t know.

3. If you want to go by the simplistic dictionary definition of racism (which is not suited for such a complex sociological phenomenon, not to mention biased given when and by who it was written) because it obviously fits your agenda better, please suit yourself but it makes you look completely ignorant.

4. I couldn’t care less about how you feel about my sociology degree. Stop resorting to boring insults and try coming up with a relevant argument if that’s even possible.

Avatar El Ahr

@gayle22:disqus , Your combination of the fallacies of appealing to authority with assuming the conclusion of your argument to discredit your detracts reminds me of an old Dilbert cartoon, wherein Dogbert produces a strand of hair, claiming to have written the entire encyclopedia on it, a feat for which he intends to achieve world record renown. When queried skeptically by his owner as to how he intends to prove this, Dogbert produces another strand of hair and replies, “I’ll swear on this Bible”.

Avatar Benjamin S

I suppose you may have spent more years in university than I, if you achieved your MA at an exceptionally slow pace. The whole point is that you shouldn’t be citing your university credentials in the first place, particularly when you’re laughably wrong, as you are here.

In this case, your years spent in university haven’t trained you to produce any sort of response, aside from calling my conception “simplistic”, and your own more fittingly “complex”, without argument. That, and pissing and whining that I was mean to you in response to you calling me laughable. Too bad.

This is especially funny, given that your own conception, which apparently attributes “power” in society only to one group, and not to others (failing which they might be justifiably accused of racism) is a *gross* oversimplification.

More than that, your argument against me is both ad hominem, in that you dismiss it because of my “bias” and “agenda”, without it being clear from the context that you would even know what my agenda is, because I certainly haven’t written it here; and also circular reasoning, in that claiming that I’m biased is both conclusion and premise. (Why would you say I’m biased, if you didn’t already think I’m wrong? And if you’re implicitly saying I’m wrong in the premise of the argument, that can’t be used to prove that I’m wrong.)

Your MA in sociology might have equipped you to deal with “complex sociological phenomenoma” (by ridiculously oversimplifying them), but not to reason or argue logically.

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