UT prof tells students El Paso Republican mayor is a 'white supremacist'

The University of Texas-El Paso held a conference to facilitate academic discussion of issues surrounding the recent mass shooting in the area.

She also informed the students that the Mayor’s condemnation of white supremacy was in itself an act of white supremacy.

One professor used her time to accuse the El Paso Mayor of being a “white supremacist,” suggesting that he and President Donald Trump were supporting white supremacy through their condemnations of the attack.

During an event meant to help University of Texas-El Paso students heal from the trauma of the El Paso Walmart shooting in August, a professor suggested that the Republican El Paso mayor was a “white supremacist” because he called the shooter “evil.”

The university held a “Trauma, Resilience & Resistance” conference in late August, which promised to address “feelings of sadness and frustration” and introduce “ways for us to bounce back like the strong community that we are.” But video of the event shows one professor used the time to convince students that their lives are embroiled in unavoidable, systemic “white supremacy.” 

Yonlanda Leyva, whom the UTEP website identifies as the former chair of UT El Paso’s history department and an associate professor, gave a presentation focusing on “the vagueness of language,” in which she asserted that visual symbols of “white supremacy” are easier to spot than verbal representations. 

The video was uploaded to YouTube the day after the event took place. The footage shows one slide, titled, “Does history repeat itself? What can we learn about fighting white supremacy?” A flyer promoting the event lists a talk, titled, “Does history really repeat itself? What can we learn about fighting white supremacy?” given by Leyva and Dr. David Romo, whom Leyva mentions in the clip.

[RELATED: Alabama rep branded ‘white supremacist’ for pushing free speech bill]

Leyva played attendees a video clip of El Paso Mayor Dee Margo saying of the shooting: “...of a white supremacist, that has no bearing or belonging in El Paso. It was not done by an El Pasoan, no El Pasoan would ever do this. And I can’t...I don’t know how we deal with evil. I don’t have a textbook for dealing with evil other than the Bible.”

Leyva stopped the clip, turned to the class and said: “There is our conservative, Republican, white supremacist mayor.”

The professor then played a similar clip of President Donald Trump’s remarks on the shooting in which he said the following: “A wicked man went to a Walmart store where families were shopping with their loved ones. He shot and murdered 20 people and injured 26 others, including precious little children. Then in the early hours of Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio, another twisted monster opened fire on a crowded downtown street.”

The professor then explained to the students in attendance that when leaders refer to shooters as “monsters,” “twisted people,” “evil people,” or “mentally ill people,” they are actually cloaking themselves in white supremacy.

[RELATED: 5 times higher ed cried ‘white supremacy’ in 2018]

“Okay, so yes,” said Leyva, agreeing with those characterizations of shooters. “But they serve a purpose...to support white supremacy. They’re not lone wolves.”

She then asked the audience to think about what it means “when white supremacists are condemning white supremacy,” and subsequently informed them that the condemnation itself is “a way also to support white supremacy, because that way we say ‘oh look, it’s not white supremacy because they’re condemning it,’ while at the very same time they are in their actions, in their policies, supporting white supremacy.”

The professor then went on to define white supremacy as a system intrinsic to society. 

“Sometimes we get sucked into saying ‘oh that person is a racist,’ and we put a lot of attention on one person. Sometimes we get sucked into ‘I’m not a racist.’ But it’s a system and whether we want to support it or not, we’re all in it. We’re all in the system of white supremacy,” Levya said. 

She explained that this system is “throughout our society” and “in our schools” from kindergarten to Ph.D. programs.

Leyva and the University of Texas-El Paso did not return requests for comment in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan