Journal & Topics Media Group

Turning Point USA Club Poster Brings Accusations Of Racism At Glenbrook South

Gong-Gershowitz, Fine, Meet Superintendent; 1,600-Signature Petition Calls For Apology

A GBS Turning Point USA reruiting poster, approved by the Glenbrook South assistant principal for student activities office to be posted in GBS hallways, considered offensive by some, features a video game character with a yellow Soviet-era communist hammer and sickle symbol on its chest and the words “China Kinda Sus.” (Image provided)

Members of the Asian community and others in Glenview, including two state legislators, are concerned over a poster they say contains racist overtones and displayed by a student club in the hallways of Glenbrook South High School.

The Turning Point USA club at South displayed the poster, with a stamped approval from the assistant principal for student activities, as a recruiting tool for students. It features a video game character with a yellow Soviet-era communist hammer and sickle symbol on its chest and the words “China Kinda Sus” and “TPUSA” written below.

Students began an online petition calling for an apology and other actions earlier this month. That petition contained more than 1,600 signatures as of late Monday.

State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-17th), who is the grandchild of Chinese immigrants and has a child who attends Glenbrook South, said she takes great offense to the images used in the poster. “The clear intent was to stoke xenophobic anti-Asian (sentiment),” she said.

Gong-Gershowitz said she and State Sen. Laura Fine (D-9th) were contacted by constituents and Asian organizations, not just from Glenview, but from across Illinois, upset and offended by the poster and following up to see what action was being taken locally. 

The two state legislators released a letter to the community Saturday, May 1, detailing a meeting they had with Dist. 225 Supt. Charles Johns on April 30.

“We expressed our conviction that this racist, harmful sort of content must not be permitted,” Gong-Gershowitz and Fine said. “At a time when anti-Asian racism and hate crimes are being committed at a disturbing frequency, we must come together as a community in support of the values outlined in Glenbrook South’s mission statement.”

That statement discusses creating an atmosphere of “acceptance and inclusion” and a culture “based on respect for all.”

The letter said at the meeting, “Johns committed to taking several important steps toward healing from this incident, as well as preventing similar ones in the future.”

As of Monday, May 10, Gong-Gershowitz and Fine said they had not heard back from the administration since the April 30 meeting.

When asked for comment on the situation, Johns issued a brief written statement Monday night saying, “We are continuing to investigate the situation. This thorough process is critical, as policies have broad implications.”

The student petition said: “We demand a public apology from the GBS administration and TPUSA directed to the communities affected by this message, as well as informative education open to all students regarding Asian hate and the effect of ignorance and insensitivity. We would also like TPUSA students and the Student Activities Board to be held accountable. Lastly, GBS should set a clear policy to prevent future mistakes.” 

A few responding to posts on Facebook seemed to defend the poster. “What is wrong with calling out communist China for their part in this pandemic? If this were calling out Russia, you’d have no issue,” one poster said.

Gong-Gershowitz said the poster comes in the context of a rise in anti-Asian violence, including incidents which she said occured in Glenview but were not reported to police.

The Chronicle of Higher Education and the Southern Poverty Law Center have linked senior leadership of Turning Point USA to the alt-right and white supremacist movements in statements published in early 2018. Turning Point USA officials have denied they are a racist organization in statements to the Journal & Topics.

The Anti-Defamation League pointed to connections between Turning Point USA “members or activists and known extremists or extremist groups.”

Support local news by subscribing to the Journal & Topics in print or online.

4 responses to “Turning Point USA Club Poster Brings Accusations Of Racism At Glenbrook South”

  1. T Paine says:

    Turning point USA is in no way a white supremacy org. Claims that anyone who doesn’t agree with your view are supremacists are simply pathetic. China does suck and it has nothing to do with anti Asia sentiment.

  2. Paul Kersey says:

    In their stated efforts to combat what they see as racism, State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz and State Sen. Laura Fine have become shills for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and have trampled on an American student organization’s 1st Amendment rights. If they had just stopped to think for a minute about the communist-style hammer and sickle, they would have realized that this was not a visual attack on Asian Americans, but a dig at the CCP. I wonder what Gong-Gershowitz ‘s grandparents would think, had they known that their granddaughter sides with Xi Jinping and the communists over American students.

  3. Fred Rides says:

    After a lengthy investigation, the principal of GBS has been summarily dismissed by the school board for taking action against TPS USA GBS chapter.
    This shows that the community largely supports the student’s freedom of speech and that by no means this poster was offensive.

  4. Jill Ruschli Crane says:

    I am so sad to find that this is going on in Glenview, in my old high school. What I don’t understand is this; if some students are aggrieved by what they perceive to be offensive, why does the ‘free speech’ argument automatically arise? What is wrong with trying to appreciate the back story? Where is the compassion? These are complicated issues for Asians (and Jews, Muslims, people of color, etc) that many of us, especially those of us who grew up in a totally ‘white’ society, can’t begin to understand. Why not try to realize that if there was hurt, this organization would, at the very least, want to attempt to neutralize the situation, especially if the hurt was unintended. This appears to be a poster reaching out to students to join Turning Point USA. Why can’t there be any consideration that this ‘China’ meme wasn’t the best selection to promote inclusivity? Instead, thousands of people in Glenview are angry, and the accomplished, experienced and competent high school principal of an award winning school, is ousted. Different points of views should be heard and discussed. Then, perhaps, we can all learn something. Antagonism is on the rise. Is this how we want to be?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.