Jewish UCLA Student Body President Apologizes for Using White Privilege to Culturally Appropriate Bloods Sign and Offend Gang Communities
May 04, 2017, 06:37 AM
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UCLA student politics aren’t quite as hilarious as Claremont/Pomona’s, but they’re good for a laugh now and then.

Lately, UCLA student politics seem to be mostly The Diverse vs. The Jews.

For example, a high school friend of my son’s who got elected to UCLA student government by mobilizing his obscure Asian ethnic group made the front page of the New York Times for questioning a Jewish nominee to office over whether she could be fair on Israel-related issues. (You may wonder how often Israel comes up in UCLA student government. The answer is: all the time.)

Typical UCLA student and his Neapolitan caddy

Of course, the NYT edited the article and cropped the photo to leave out my son’s highly diverse friend and make it appear that only a blonde coed from Switzerland was, as it were, interrogating the Jewish sorority girl.

In U.C.L.A. Debate Over Jewish Student, Echoes on Campus of Old Biases By ADAM NAGOURNEY MARCH 5, 2015

Anything else would be too complicated for NYT subscribers to deal with.

This week, the big brouhaha is over the Jewish student body president joking around in an old picture:

From the Daily Bruin:

Students respond to leaked photo of USAC president making gang symbol


Students expressed concern and outrage over a photograph of the undergraduate student government president that began circulating Sunday on social media.

In the photo, Danny Siegel, the Undergraduate Students Association Council president, posed with the hand sign of a primarily African American street gang called the Bloods. Many students said they think the gesture was insensitive to individuals affected by gang violence.

Here’s Siegel’s Linked-In page. Does every college student have a Linked-In page these days?

Siegel is a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. I wonder if UCLA’s star QB Josh Rosen is a member? Do football players join fraternities these days, or do they not have time because everything is focused on being a first round draft pick?

Some students began sharing a screenshot of the photo Sunday, one day before voting for this year’s USAC election opened. The photo was originally posted in a GroupMe chat called “Protect the Crown” by Brian Kohaya, Siegel’s appointments director. In the chat, Kohaya commented, “Problematic Danny. (Don’t you dare repost that photo).”

Siegel … posted an apology on Facebook Sunday afternoon:

“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,” Siegel wrote in the post. “I should have known better and take full responsibility for my insensitivity.”

Robert Gardner, a fourth-year political science and African American studies student, said a group of African American students called an emergency community meeting Monday night and are discussing how they want to respond to the photo. The students are considering asking for another apology or demanding Siegel resign from the remainder of his term, which ends May 9.

Gardner, whose cousin died because of gang violence, said many African Americans in segregated neighborhoods join gangs for protection or income.

“When a white person throws up the gang sign, they’re basically making a mockery of the oppression that African Americans in hyper-segregated neighborhoods face,” he said. “A lot of black Bruins are extremely upset at this appropriation of our culture … that’s derived out of anti-black racism.”

Kosi Ogbuli, a first-year neuroscience student and incoming vice chair of the Afrikan Student Union, said he thinks the photo is inexcusable.

“From where I grew up, it’s a sign that implies a lot of things and a lot of danger,” Ogbuli said. “It’s like a name tag for what gang you’re in – that’s your set and you’re proud of being in it.” …

“That’s not something that should be mocked or even thought about by somebody that is a student leader,” Ogbuli said. “For some students, that might be a reality, a reason why their father or mother is not in the picture.”

Amy Shao, the USAC Cultural Affairs commissioner who ran with the slate Waves of Change last year, said:

“Being from communities of color, we can’t afford to not understand these things, because they impact us every day,” Shao said. “(Siegel) has the privilege to decide when to be informed and to pick what he knows. I don’t know if he understands that.” …

NJ Omorogieva, a second-year sociology and psychology student, said she knows people on campus who have been deeply affected by gang activity.

“Being part of the black community at UCLA, I know people who do have high stakes (in the issue),” she said. “For someone to mock it is extremely disrespectful. …

Omorogieva added posing with the sign is supposed to represent pride for what gang someone belongs to, and she could not imagine using the sign as someone outside gang culture.

“You know how long it takes to form your fingers into that?” she asked. “In all those minutes, you must have thought about doing it, positioned your fingers, posed for pictures – it takes a pretty long time for you to not realize it’s wrong.”

Siegel said he does not recall his thought process while taking the photo, but added he did know at the time that it was offensive to certain communities.

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