A student president at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is being asked to resign after a photo surfaced showing him posing with a gang hand symbol. The student, Danny Siegel, a liberal Democrat, is now apologizing for his “white privilege” and says he will continue to apologize as much as is necessary.
Students showed up at a student government meeting last night to protest Siegel for “appropriating” black culture. Here’s how some of the meeting went:
“I dare you to try to put up that symbol in my neighborhood and see what happens to you,” a student yelled at Siegel. Here is the photo in question:
Robert Gardner, the student who first raised the controversy, accused Danny of offending the people in black neighborhoods who are affected by gang violence, when he is white and living in a safer community.
“Another day when I have to balance academia and fighting motherf***ing racists as usual,” Gardner began in a monologue at the meeting. He continued by complaining that “a white man can put up a gang sign and we have this. A black person puts up a gang sign, like my cousin, and they six feet under.”
Gardner continued by blaming this contrast on “white privilege” and a lack of resources in black communities.
“It speaks to how we don’t value black lives, and how we don’t try to figure out the systemic reasonings behind a lot of cultural differences,” he said.
Siegel posted a lengthy apology to Facebook, in which he repeated the talking points of his protesters and and blamed his privileged lifestyle for his inexperience of gang violence.
“I engaged in narrow-mindedness and total disrespect. I want to be up front: this is a result of my white privilege and lack of perspective, something that so many victims of gang violence don’t have the luxury of, in fact this behavior can put their lives at risk,” he said. “When I as a white man make a ‘simple mistake’, ‘joke’, or ‘claim ignorance’, I can get off easy, while for a person of color it can be criminal… I’m thankful to God and my family that I have never experienced gang violence, and trivializing it, regardless of my intentions, hurt people. And for that I am sorry.”
The students, some representing UCLA’s chapter of the African Student Union, denounced Siegel’s apology and asked him to take action by listening to their list of demands, one of which includes establishing segregated housing for black students. Other students asked Siegel to resign.
Siegel says he does not plan to resign but he will continue to apologize as necessary.