White nationalist group ‘defends’ white privilege


These National Youth Front and Traditionalist Youth Network posters and memes were placed in various campus locations. Courtesy: Rebekah Richardson

Laney Ruckstuhl

These National Youth Front and Traditionalist Youth Network posters and memes were placed in various campus locations. Courtesy: Rebekah Richardson
These National Youth Front and Traditionalist Youth Network posters and memes were placed in various campus locations. Courtesy: Rebekah Richardson

A white nationalist group is targeting Appalachian State University and “defending” white and Christian privilege with a campaign called Bully Boards.

The National Youth Front, a wing of the white nationalist American Freedom Party, first plastered posters in one of the expression tunnels on Appalachian’s campus Tuesday, following the Forum on Privilege hosted by the university Monday night, which featured six faculty members who discussed the idea of privilege in an attempt to educate the student body.

The boards have received national attention since one was posted in East Residence Hall by resident assistant and senior political science major Reginald Gravely. The board, which asked students to “check” their privilege, received coverage from the online publications Campus Reform and Young Conservatives before the story was eventually picked up by Fox News.

The bulletin board was defended by University Housing, which refused to take it down and has been holding meetings in residence halls to educate students. Similar bulletin boards have also been posted on campus, such as one titled “Unpacking Christian Privilege,” which was vandalized in a residence hall shortly following its posting.

Chief Diversity Officer Bindu Jayne said in an email that the posters show a sharp contrast with the environment of the forum held the night before.

“Students, understandably, are angry, fearful and upset about the imagery,” Jayne stated in the email. “So am I.”

Sophomore studio art major Rebekah Richardson posted a photograph of the posters in the tunnel on Facebook, which received many shares and comments. She said when she first saw them, she thought it was laughable, until she realized they were a white supremacist group who may be trying to recruit students.

“The current racial climate at [Appalachian] is already bad enough,” Richardson said. “This presence is really not what our campus needs right now. It should really be an eye opener to those who are unwilling to believe that we have a serious issue with racism on our campus and in the U.S.”

NYF leader Angelo John Gage said the posters were phase II of the campaign against Appalachian, which he said is an “anti-white” institution. The group also asked its supporters to email Chancellor Sheri N. Everts asking her to take down bulletin boards surrounding the idea of privilege in a YouTube video on their website and Facebook page.

According to www.nationalyouthfront.com, the group is not a supremacist organization but “an elite youth organization dedicated to the preservation of all White people.” But Gage denied that privilege exists, calling it “cultural Marxist rhetoric that is designed to destroy our culture by undermining everything that has created it in order to bring about some impossible utopia of equality.”

The group also worked with the Traditionalist Youth Network, which subscribes to similar beliefs under the Traditionalist school of thought.

Gage posted another video Wednesday morning in response to angry emails, Facebook posts and tweets he received from students, saying he didn’t understand why white students who had responded negatively were being “suicidal” and acting against their own interests.

Appalachian does not have registered chapters of NYF or TYN on campus, although the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in February there is an NYF chapter in Asheville. Gage refused to disclose who was putting the posters up and whether Appalachian students were involved.

The administration was not available for comment at the time of publication.

The Office of Multicultural Student Development encouraged students with questions to contact Bindu Jayne or Dean of Students J.J. Brown, and to direct concerns for their safety as well as information about who is putting posters up to the University Police at (828) 262-8000.

Correction: An earlier version of the story referred to the National Youth Front as a “Neo-nazi” group. However, the group identifies as “white nationalists” and is categorized as such by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Story: Laney Ruckstuhl, News Editor