Berea College — a private liberal arts college in Kentucky that says it's "still firmly rooted in its historic purpose," which is "to promote the cause of Christ" — is hosting an event next Wednesday titled, "White Citizenship as Terrorism: Make America Great Again, Again."
What are the details?
The event — sponsored by the Women's and Gender Non-Conforming Center at Berea — will feature a Zoom presentation from Amy Brandzel.
The latter notice regarding the event reads:
"Despite the calls for multiculturalism, the presentation and color-blindness, segments of white America mourn their so-called loss of privilege, consistently begging to return to the nostalgic past in which their esteemed value as white citizens went unquestioned. Trump's 'Make America Great Again' appears to follow suit by offering a seemingly benign promise to return America to a previously 'great' past. But the offer to 'Make America Great Again, Again,' requires we refocus on how the last four years of daily tweets and administrative actions redefine whiteness. If terrorism is defined as the use of violence and threats to create a state of fear towards [sic] particular communities and identities, then this is what 'Trumpism' is at its core. The talk offers to resuscitate Trumpism and white citizenship as forms of white terrorism enacted against the majority of people living within the borders of the U.S. and beyond."
It wasn't immediately apparent that Berea College or the campus organization sponsoring the event described who Brandzel is, but the Federalist noted she's an assistant professor of women studies at the University of New Mexico and author of "Against Citizenship: The Violence of the Normative."
The outlet added that Brandzel's book proposes that "citizenship is a violent dehumanizing mechanism that makes the comparative devaluing of human lives see," and that "citizenship requires anti-intersectionality, that is, strategies that deny the mutuality and contingency of race, class, gender, sexuality and nation…"
Pushback and a defense
After word got out regarding the "White Citizenship as Terrorism" event and some pushback was felt, Berea College posted a statement defending the event. The school also quoted its motto — "God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth" — which is based on Acts 17:26:
"A planned event by the Women's and Gender Non-Conforming Center at Berea College has attracted a great deal of attention on social media, and resulted in several emails from concerned persons. To some, the provocative title of the event implies that Berea is not a welcoming place for individuals with differing political views. That is not true. At Berea, we strive to live out our motto: God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth. Berea accepts students of all faiths (or none at all), religious beliefs, ethnicities and political leanings, creating a diverse environment that encourages acceptance, respect and even appreciation across our differences.
"We encourage open dialog on difficult topics. Racism and white nationalism have been topics of great debate over the past five years. The event planned for next week seeks to confront aspects of the political spectrum that relate to the difficult topic of race in America. While that may cause discomfort, it is a valid and important conversation in this time of political and racial division. It is our hope that these types of conversations will occur across the country. Open, honest dialogue is essential to understanding racism and moving toward an anti-racist society."
The Women's and Gender Non-Conforming Center issued a statement, as well:
"We are grateful to President Lyle Roelofs, Interim Provosts Scott Steele and Steve Gowler, Dean Matthew Saderholm, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Kim Brown, and Director of Publications and Media Relations Abbie Darst for this statement in support of our Gender Talk next week about the white terrorism that claims to make America great again (again). Be sure to tune in!"
Berea College notes on its website that it was "founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers" and wants staff and students to "work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice."
The school's website also stated that it "stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those peacefully demonstrating against police brutality across the country and around the world. As the first interracial and coeducational college in the slaveholding South in 1855, this moment calls for our support. Our history and our commitments demand it."
(H/T: Young America's Foundation)