Students battle racism at rally

By Sandi Patyk

Author Lou Turner said Monday’s rally against racism, held at King Memorial Commons, was a test for NIU students.

“It’s obvious racism hasn’t gone away, and neither should the opposition to racism,” Turner said.

The rally, organized by the John Lennon Society, was part of Unity Through Diversity Week on campus. Turner compared this rally to the one held March 5.

“Last spring’s anti-racism rally was the biggest I’ve seen in the Chicago area; it was a great effort,” Turner said. “Today’s rally will test if students want to continuously fight racism—I think they do.”

JLS member Jim Fabris said if students really care about fighting racism they should stay active. “The reason there aren’t as many people here today as there were last spring is because there aren’t any television cameras,” he said.

Fabris said students need “progressive change, not unity around the status quo.”

Turner said, “When racism rears its ugly head, sexism is close behind.” Student Association Welfare Adviser Julia Stege said the effects of racism and sexism are the same.

“Most people don’t think racism is funny anymore, but they laugh at sexism. People who saw the movie ‘Deep Throat’ laughed, and I asked them if they would laugh at a movie about a black person being abused and enjoying it,” Stege said.

Stege said there are no overtly racist lectures or events on campus, but most advertising is sexist.

“The Spuds MacKenzie ads are a good example. Spuds is a male dog in the commercial, and because of his maleness he attracts scantily-clad, giggling women who ‘can’t have a good time without Spuds,'” Stege said.

Stege said women are brought up to respect what men do, so sometimes they may accept it without thinking. “There is a level of complete ignorance on campus about sexism—we need to educate people.”

Turner said contradictions, such as saying sexism is okay but racism is not, will bring down movements to end inequality.

We have to be interested in ideas or the ideas of someone else will fill the void. Hopefully the struggle with ideas will begin today for some of you,” Turner said.

Turner said Reaganism is partly to blame for racist acts, although racism did not begin with the Reagan administration. “The racial literature that recently has been thrown-up on campus thrives in Reaganism. Racism is not the product of unintelligent people.”