UCLA Med School Requires Students To Attend Lecture Where Speaker Demands Prayer for ‘Mama Earth,’ Leads Chants of ‘Free Palestine.’

Listen to audio of prayer offered in UCLA Medical School’s course on structural racism

April 2, 2024

In a mandatory course on "structural racism" for first-year medical students at the University of California Los Angeles, a guest speaker who has praised Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel led students in chants of "Free, Free Palestine" and demanded that they bow down to "mama earth," according to students in the class and audio obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Lisa "Tiny" Gray-Garcia, who has referred to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks as "justice," began the March 27 class by leading students in what she described as a "non-secular prayer" to "the ancestors," instructing everyone to get on their knees and touch the floor—"mama earth," as she described it—with their fists.

At least half of the assembled students complied, two students said. Gray-Garcia, a local activist who had been invited to speak about "Housing (In)Justice," proceeded to thank native tribes for preserving "what the settlers call L.A.," according to audio obtained by the Free Beacon, and to remind students of the city’s "herstory."

The prayer also included a benediction for "black," "brown," and "houseless people" who die because of the "crapatalist lie" of "private property."

"Mama earth," Gray-Garcia told the kneeling students, "was never meant to be bought, sold, pimped, or played."

So began a long and looney lecture that shocked some students at the elite medical school and has led to calls for an investigation. Wearing a keffiyeh that covered her entire face, Gray-Garcia, a self-described "poverty scholar," led the class in chants of "Free, Free Palestine" as faculty and staff looked on in silence, according to people in the course and contemporaneous text messages reviewed by the Free Beacon.

One of the onlookers was Lindsay Wells, a pediatrician at UCLA and the director of the mandatory first-year course, "Structural Racism and Health Equity," who did not respond to a request for comment.

Gray-Garcia later referred to modern medicine as "white science" and inveighed against the "occupation" of "Turtle Island"—that is, the United States—before asking students to stand for a second prayer. This time, nearly everyone rose.

When one student remained seated, according to students in the class, a UCLA administrator, whom the Free Beacon could not identify, inquired about the student’s identity, implying that discipline could be on the table.

"The net effect was that UCLA staff intimidated first-year medical students into participating in a religious service in derogation of their own personal beliefs," UCLA’s Jewish Faculty Resilience Group wrote to university chancellor Gene Block on Sunday.  "There needs to be an urgent and thorough external review and investigation of the [medical school’s] curriculum and systemic antisemitism."

UCLA and Gray-Garcia did not respond to requests for comment.

The surreal spectacle is the latest controversy to envelop the "Structural Racism and Health Equity" class, launched in the wake of George Floyd’s death as a part of the medical school’s "anti-racism roadmap."

The course became the subject of a civil rights complaint in January after it separated students into race-based discussion groups—one for white students, another for African Americans, and a third for "Non-Black People of Color." UCLA cancelled the exercise after a Wall Street Journal editorial highlighted the complaint.

More unwanted attention came in March when the Daily Wire published portions of the course’s syllabus, which includes units on "settler colonialism" and recommends a podcast about "Indigenous womxn’s health." Students are also urged to read an essay, "Decolonization is not a metaphor," that describes the "epistemic, ontological, cosmological violence" of "the settler."

Gray-Garcia’s talk offers a window into the way these concepts are shaping the classroom experience at one of the top medical schools in the country—and raises serious questions about how that school vetted a speaker with a long history of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic posts.

"When u resist after decades of relentless poLicing [sic], killing & terrorizing," Gray-Garcia tweeted on Nov. 1, "that’s not ‘terrorism’ that’s justice."


Israel, she declared in 2018, is "amerikkklan."


News of Gray-Garcia’s lecture comes as the Department of Education is investigating UCLA over a string of anti-Semitic episodes on campus, including an incident in which students bludgeoned a piñata with a picture of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s face. "Beat that f—ing Jew," one student allegedly shouted. In a separate incident, UCLA moved an event with former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni online due to threats of protests.

Beyond her anti-Israel posts, Gray-Garcia’s writings include a book called How to Not Call the Po’Lice Ever and a poem, "Dear KKKolumbus," dedicated to black people killed by law enforcement.

"Pop - Pop/Our babies have been shot," the first stanza reads. "By these occupying armies called KKKops."