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Cross-Cultural Center presents annual Deconstruction Zone project, ‘Unpacking White Supremacy’

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The Cross-Cultural Center (CCC) hosted its signature Deconstruction Zone project with the theme “Unpacking White Supremacy,” inviting campus organizations and the UCI community to reflect on ideas about culture, power and community through daily programming scheduled from May 13-17.

The Deconstruction Zone featured daily presentations led by various speakers at the center, including CCC student program coordinators — JD Libramonte and Cedar Schaeffer — as well as educational exhibits displayed around the center. Talks and displays focused on the meaning of white supremacy and its lasting impacts on society.

“We wanted to touch on some prevailing themes and ongoing campus climate issues that we saw last year [and] this year, and white supremacy kind of seems to fit at the core of a lot of them,” Schaeffer said in an interview with New University.

As part of the week-long program, Libramonte and Schaeffer spoke at the Resource Availability Amidst Multiculturality talk on May 14, focusing on the experience of students at UCI. Multi-ethnic and multicultural students are frequently misrepresented in surveys and other methods of data collection. For these students there is no accurate box to capture their complex and rich backgrounds, Schaeffer said.

Libramonte and Schaeffer also discussed how student government legislation, such as  ASUCI Legislation B59-02 and R59-65 are impactful. Passed on Nov. 19, 2023, Legislation B59-02 removed and reallocated $80k of funding from the Student Equity Advisory Council, which specifically serves historically marginalized student populations, due to vacancies in the council. Legislation R59-65, passed on April 18, was an apology to Afrikan/Black students for the proposed removal of funds from the 2025 Afrikan Black Coalition Conference (ABCC). These cuts in funding represent a detrimental motion to underrepresented and marginalized students, according to Libramonte and Schaeffer. 

“Your tuition dollars pay for these centers so actively seek out ways to get involved…use your voice to enact the change you hope to see,” Schaeffer said.

Throughout the week, educational passives and exhibits on white supremacy in different facets of society were displayed at the CCC. An exhibit titled “White Hollywood” was made by Hansori at UCI, a traditional Korean drumming campus club, and explained how Asian people are portrayed and treated in Hollywood. The exhibit focused on the history of yellowface, where white actors use makeup, prosthetics, and accents to appear stereotypically Asian, frequently East Asian.

Second-year chemistry major Jay Won, one of the creators of the “White Hollywood” display, shared his goals for creating the exhibit. 

“Lots of people are familiar with…white people that are a lead role in Hollywood, and there are lots of racial inequalities going on,” Won said. “I just wish people [can] get awareness on those kinds of statistical studies.”

Won also attended a Real Talk titled Unraveling Colonial Impacts on Culture Across Time, a part of the Deconstruction Zone programming, and expressed the importance of open discussion about the histories of oppressed groups.

“There is not a lot of coverage [of] those minorities and different kinds of cultures and so college is definitely a good place to have those conversations,” Won said.

Due to the campus-wide closure that same week, some Deconstruction Zone events were canceled. However, as an annual event, Schaeffer and Libramonte stated the importance of highlighting voices from the UCI community through the Deconstruction Zone and furthering the mission of the CCC.

“Our center is really just about empowering students, and student organizations,” Schaeffer said. “To enact the change that they [students] see is needed… we just want to be able to provide a space and a larger voice on campus for them and for the issues that they face,” Schaeffer said. 

UCI is home to various centers for students to learn about other histories, communitie, and stories. Alongside the CCC, the UCI Latinx Resource Center, the Womxn’s Center for Success, UCI LGBT Resource Center, UCI Center for Black Cultures, Resources & Research, UCI Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) and many more centers serve the UCI community. Schaeffer emphasized the importance of active engagement in these resources and community hubs. 

“I just encourage everyone to see ways they can get involved with the Cross-Cultural Center and other centers,” Schaeffer said. “Use your voice to enact the change you hope to see.”

Felipe Juarez Molina is a Campus Intern. He can be reached at juarezmf@uci.edu.

Edited by Beatrice Lee and Annabelle Aguirre.