Campus Reform | College hosts ‘community radical’ who claims White people must be willing to say ‘I am a racist’

College hosts ‘community radical’ who claims White people must be willing to say ‘I am a racist’

Rocky Mountain College hosted a "community radical" who told students that only White people can be racist.

He further claimed that race is a "political construct" created by "White people" to "oppress people of color."

Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana hosted “community radical” Eran Thompson, on a community video call during which he explained to students that race “was created by White people, for White people, to oppress people of color."

The event was titled “The Good Troublemaker” and coordinated by the college’s Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force which is made up of faculty, staff, and students who have the goal of “educating the campus community on topics of diversity and social justice by engaging students in critical thought and civil dialogue.”

“Since February is Black History Month, the Task Force wanted a speaker who could help us explore privilege and the struggle for social justice,” RMC chaplain and member of the Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force, Kim Woeste told Campus Reform. “Eran is one of my professional colleagues. He's been involved in organizing work in the Billings community for over 20 years." 

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Thompson was introduced as a “troublemaker” and “community radical." He began his presentation by addressing the Black Lives Matter protest that took place in Billings in summer 2020, and stated, “my biggest fear was that there, you know, there would be a summer of protest and then nothing would happen, and that’s still my biggest fear.” 

He added that he fears that “not enough people are going to be willing to get in good trouble.” Thompson continued to explain his background and his belief that everyone has a “right to fairness and equality, to living wages, to decent sanitary living conditions, to not being judged by the color of their skin, to equal application of the law,” and claimed that he “grew up with that sort of White privilege instilled in me even though I had brown skin.”

Thompson gave his own definition of racism as a term that involves two components, “prejudice and power" but insisted that “reverse racism does not exist.”

Shortly after, Thompson concluded that “race isn’t a real thing, it’s a political construct,” and that race was ultimately created “by White people, for White people, specifically to oppress people of color.”

The “most unpopular statement” that he introduced was that “to be an anti-racist, White ally, the first thing you have to be willing to admit is that you are a racist.” Thompson repeated this claim and stated “you have to be willing to say to yourself, ‘I am a racist.”’

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Following Thompson’s presentation, he took questions from students. 

In response to one question, he addressed the movement to defund the police. 

"We don’t want the police to be in charge of everything and anything.” Additionally, he stated, “this militarization is enough, let’s defund the police.”

As a member of the Diversity Task Force, coordinator of student activities, Tracy Mouser, then entered the discussion to add, “I’ve got racist tendencies within me just because I am a White woman.”

In a phone interview, Mouser elaborated to Campus Reform. 

"If that statement is true, that White people are racist, then I need to look at that and ask the question, are there racist tendencies inside of me?” she said. 

One question during the discussion one dealt with people of color "being on the racism spectrum.” Thompson’s response was that he “goes back and forth on this a lot” but his “instinct is to say ‘no’ you can’t put people of color on that spectrum” although he is “willing to be challenged.” 

"What I would say," he continued, "because I’m assuming that is coming from a White person, that question, is don’t worry about people of color, worry about yourself.”

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Student Zachary Wall attended the Zoom call and told Campus Reform he took issue with being characterized as a racist just because of his skin color. 

“I disagree with the statement that only White people can be racist and I don’t personally believe I am a racist or that because I am White I should be defined as a racist,” said Wall. “I will treat all people the same and maybe the Marine Corps instilled that in me by saying that everyone was green, but we all bleed the same color so who am I to judge a person based on color.”

In a statement made directly to Campus Reform, Thompson said,  “I define racism as follows: 1. A system of advantage for White people, 2. The systematic oppression of people of color, 3. A belief in the supremacy of White people and the institutional power to enforce that belief. Using that definition I do believe it’s not possible for a person of color to be racist.” 

Follow the author of this article: Emily Kokot