What the heck is going on??
As you may or may not have heard, the UC Davis in San Diego California has been the site of a slough of hate crimes in the past couple of weeks - both racial and anti-gay. Since Feb.8 there have been reports of the following: a "Compton Cookout" party whose theme was based on showing up in apperal that was based on Black racial stereotypes such as gold chains,gold teeth and "ho" constumes; a noose found hanging from a library shelf and bathroom; a swastika on a female Jewish student's dorm door and three more sprayed around campus; a KKK-style hood found on a campus statue; the campus LGBTQ Resource Center vandalized with derogatory graffitti that read things like "queers," "fags,"homos."
Hate is alive and well my friends, even among the educationally enlightened.
Reporters are gabbling with this question: Is this hate or is this some college kids looking to pull whatever stunt to be accepted by fellow peers?
We can definately acknowledge that most likely its the latter, but the question should extend itself to ask why are upper-middle class White college students feeling the need to gain "social acceptance" with this forms of racist and anti-gay epithets and symbols.
If their motives are purely hate, then they are sending that message loud and clear and they should be punished for their crimes. However, if it is to gain some f-ed up form of social acceptance, we should ask, why in this matter (as aforementioned)? Well, within capitalism comes the concept of upward mobility and trying to elevate ones stataus. What does elevating ones status depend on? Having people who are below you and above you so that you can determine how much you have "risen" and how much more you must "rise".
As we know, social status does not solely depend on socioeconomic status. This intersects with other things like gender, race, sexuality, ability, etc. Women dye their hair and enhance their breasts to gain upward mobility and increased social acceptance that depends on an "other" who is less attractive and on the bottom of the heirarchy of beauty.
So, how does this help explain how striving for "social acceptance" at UC Davis is in fact a product of capitalism and upward mobility? Well, for the white, most likely hetero students who are committing these actions on campus, they are utilizing the inferior others - African American, Jewish, and queer folk - to lift their social status in their school. They know that they can depend on these acts against these groups because their own status as upper-middle class straight White individuals is protected if not directly legally, socially. Those who have the power to regulate or punish their actions are people who share their common identities and thus might acknowledge that the acts are wrong but do little else. The worst these students might get is a wag of the finger and continue on their way. In a nutshell, they have little to loose.
The bottom line is, African Americans (and other gorups of color) and queer folk are not protected classes. They can be vandalized and brutalized, used for social advantage and discarded when not needed anymore. The acts at UC Davis are an example of this fact and how capitalism depends on subjecting groups, one such group being our community (in a myriad of ways).