Another Hate Hoax: Black Student Responsible for Messages of 'White Power' and 'White Lives Matter'

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For days, students at Albion College in Albion, Michigan, were up in arms over racist graffiti found inside the dorms there.

On Thursday, in what WWMT-TV’s Trisha McCauley reported that “students are boycotting class, fighting for injustices they say are happening on campus.” Freshman Brooklyn Tripp said she’d had someone write a racial slur on her dorm door at the end of March.

“After what happened to me, I went home,” she said. “I didn’t feel safe at Albion College.”

Thursday was the third day of the boycott at the small liberal arts school east of Battle Creek. On Friday, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer, the hate graffiti was found in the stairwell of a dorm; images posted to a Facebook page called CityWatch News included scrawled phrases like “Die n******s please,” “Albion is racist we do exist KKK” and “KKK white power.” There was also a Star of David with the number’s 666 written over it.

The Albion College newspaper reported that graffiti saying “White lives Matter Rally at 4/7/2021 Let’s Kill all N****** on this Campus” was also discovered Monday.

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“The racist and anti-Semitic actions taken on our campus over the last week are cowardly and will not be tolerated,” said Albion College President Mathew Johnson. The FBI was on standby to investigate, WWMT reported Thursday.

On Thursday, police say they managed to track down the student who was responsible for the anti-black, anti-Semitic graffiti. He’s a black man.

MLive reported that Albion police first brought the unnamed man in for questioning on April 6, when he admitted to being responsible for most of the messages.

The student was released and the information will be turned over to the Calhoun County Prosecutor’s Office for possible charges. WWMT reported the 21-year-old had been suspended immediately and all information was turned over to authorities. While police and campus authorities are working to see if the student was the only one who wrote the racist graffiti on the walls, he’s currently the only suspect named.

When announcing this on social media, Albion College didn’t mention the race of the individual.

“But we know the acts of racism that have occurred this week are not about one particular person or one particular incident,” one of the tweets read. “We know that there is a significant history of racial pain and trauma on campus and we are taking action to repair our community.”

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“We will change and heal together as a community, because we are committed to doing the work.”

There’s such a significant history of racial pain and trauma on Albion’s campus that apparently, a black man … felt the need to dramatize it by writing the racist graffiti himself.

There are two likely explanations for this act, not necessarily mutually exclusive: This is a hoax or a manifestation of mental illness. I would bet on the former playing at least some role in this, given the fact these hate hoaxes aren’t uncommon. Whatever the case, the student was suspended and removed from campus on April 7, which is when those statements were tweeted.

Should this student be charged with a crime?

And yet, students still protested Thursday. It wasn’t because news hadn’t reached them. According to the Albion College newspaper, The Albion Pleiad, President Matthew Johnson had informed students via email that the suspect was a “current student of color.”

“Upon identifying this individual, we met with several key groups within the Albion community — students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders — to shape the College’s response together,” Johnson said in his email. “Those meetings were both productive and emotional, and we thank those who participated in what will be a critical and ongoing conversation on campus.”

And despite all that, students have called for a day off for Friday, April 9. According to WWMT, this would be a “wellness day” which would allow them to “process everything that has been happening on campus.”

I don’t go to Albion College. I don’t know the history of the place. For all I know, this small liberal arts school in the upper Midwest is veritably teeming with racists. Maybe these kinds of hate incidents happen all the time there and have gone unaddressed by the administration and campus police. However, this seems unlikely.

So, while I’m unaware of the details, here’s what the likely sequence of events looks like to an untrained outsider: This was a minor-league Jussie Smollett operation and/or an incident involving someone with serious mental health challenges. The racist graffiti provoked campus-wide protests. Upon finding out that this was either some kind of hoax or something entirely different than what they first imagined, the protesters … kept right on doing what they were doing, because apparently, the original narrative was much more useful to them.

Perhaps the students do need that day off to process everything that’s happened, after all, but not quite the way they think they do.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture