Wake Up, White People!

Photo by Nick SchouMission Viejo's Saddleback College is already infamous as the only California community college that can claim it once had a board president who was a Holocaust-denying high school history teacher—that'd be Steven J. Frogue. So it wasn't entirely unpredictable that students would soon get in on the act, turning an anti-racist teach-in into a forum on Jewish control of the media.

The March 31 event was hosted by the Avalon Club, a progressive student activist group, and took place inside the campus' sprawling student lounge. Saddleback College officials nearly canceled the teach-in because of an unspecified threat from a Huntington Beach neo-Nazi group. As it turned out, the skinheads didn't show up, and, really, thank goodness: many teachers required their students to participate, so it was a standing-room-only crowd.

Chris Krass, an anarchist who attended Fullerton Community College in the early 1990s, moderated the event. With his careful coif and dark suit, he bore an eerie resemblance to Matthew Hale, the neo-Nazi founder of the World Church of the Creator, but with a goatee. But Krass is no Nazi. He said he has been trying to recruit angry young white people to the anti-racist movement for a decade.

“I love white people, and I want white people to love themselves,” he told the crowd. “It's okay to be white. But if you are young and white and trying to figure out issues of racial identity, the Klan and the skinheads are the only people that speak to you, and that's some scary, scary stuff.”

The problems started when Krass told the audience that American society is based on white supremacy. “I believe everyone in society has some form of race prejudice,” Krass said. “I'm not interested in talking about that. I want to talk about racism, which is race prejudice plus institutional power—which in this country is fundamentally based on white supremacy.”

“How can you say we live in a white-supremacist society when most of the media is controlled by Jewish people?” asked a white student wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt. “White people have blond hair and blue eyes,” he continued. (He had brown hair.) “Jewish people aren't white, but it's a documented fact that they control the media. So where is this white conspiracy?”

After a lengthy debate about Jews, another student asked what Krass thought about Minister Louis Farrakhan, the outspoken—and infamously anti-Semitic—leader of the Nation of Islam. Krass replied vaguely that he thought Farrakhan was “kind of an idiot” but a “genius about some things when it comes to organizing and promoting personal responsibility.”

“How can you call Minister Farrakhan an idiot if he speaks the truth?” demanded a black woman decked out in an African headdress and robe. “When you look at the history of the origins of the human family, the fact that the Jews control the media is just a symptom—just a symptom—of the truth preached by Minister Farrakhan,” she said.

“I agree,” said Pink Floyd.

A few minutes later, Krass promoted a unifying message when he told the audience to raise their hands in response to a series of questions. “How many of you don't have a job or just lost your job?” he asked. At least 30 students—black, Mexican, Asian-American and white—raised their hands. “How many of you aren't always able to pay your bills?” A similar display. “How many of you don't have any health-care coverage?” An even more diverse group of people raised their hands, including Pink Floyd, who shook his head with irritation.

“We need to organize together and support one another, or else we'll all be struggling just to survive,” Krass said. To do that, he said, white people need to feel comfortable talking about issues of race. “So right now, I want everybody in the audience to talk to the person sitting next to them about their anxiety in talking about race and how to deal with that,” he said.

Eager discussion ensued. It was clear Krass had succeeded with his multi-ethnic audience in talking about racism. Pink Floyd turned to the girl sitting next to him, his face animated by enthusiasm.

“How do you feel about race-mixing and racial intermarriage?” he asked. “Did you know that blond hair and blue eyes are recessive genes? I think that's a real tragedy. How about you?”

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