Yes, you read that correctly. According to a recent online debate on “systemic racism” put on by the Bruin Republicans that I attended, soap dispensers are proof that white people are systemically racist against black people, according to some of my peers.
But it’s not just any dispensers, mind you. It’s those high-tech automatic ones. The reason is simple. As one UCLA student claimed during the debate, automatic soap dispensers “don’t see her hands” due to the dark pigment of her skin. As another student reiterated, soap dispensers are racist because they force “black and brown bodies” to show their palms — “the only light areas of the skin” — in order to get soap out.
I’m not joking.
First of all, let me just debunk the basis of this claim: for anyone who doesn’t know, the sensors on soap dispensers don’t see human hands; they don’t have eyes. They work using a simple device called a PIR sensor that recognizes infrared light, which is emitted by all people, regardless of color (as long as they’re not dead). Also, I don’t know about you, but those darn things never work for me. I can’t remember how many times I’ve banged on one to try to get soap out (yet it never occurred to me to blame anti-Semitism as the cause).
But I digress. The point here isn’t how a soap dispenser works. It’s the idea that students at UCLA actually thought that they were designed with white supremacy in mind.
This, and other claims like it, were not unique perspectives shared by one lone student, but rather a world-view that was reiterated and supported by the over 80 students who attended, or more accurately zoom-bombed, the debate.