By Letter to the Editor
I am shocked and saddened by the article on diversity at Union (“Diversity at Union: Where?”) written by Jared Mondschein and published in the Concordiensis on October 21.
Of the several reasons Jared lists for the low percentage of Black students on campus, he forgot to mention a significant one—perspectives like his! Tell me Jared, how do you think a prospective African-American student would react if she visited the campus and happened to read your article? My reaction, if I were that student, would be to apply to any school but Union.
How is it possible for a college student in the year 2010 to write an article on diversity and proclaim, without shame, “I know I sound pretty racist in the comments above, but I have to call it as I see it”? Why Jared do you think it’s okay to “sound pretty racist?” Actually, there is nothing “pretty” at all about your comments but much that is ugly, hateful, rude, and uninformed.
While there is much to criticize about your essay, I choose to focus only on your parenthetical statement “I am not going to call blacks ‘African-Americans’ because no one ever calls me ‘European-American’.” Tell me please, Jared, what does one have to do with the other? In your attempt to apply some type of false equivalency between a term of identity Black people have collectively struggled for and attained, and a term of identity (European-American) that most White people do not have much thought about, you inadvertently reveal a hidden resentment towards African-Americans.
If you did not have an underlying resentment towards the Black community, then you would never have a problem calling them by their chosen name. The most fundamental level of respect we can show towards others is calling them by the name of their choosing, and not ours. Your unwillingness to do so suggests disrespect for African-Americans, if not outright hostility.
I can appreciate that you are a freshman and I believe college is exactly the place where young people can make mistakes, misspeak, articulate falsehood, etc. without severe social repercussions (quite unlike the world outside of academia). This is a learning environment, and part of the learning process is to get things wrong. Of course, the ultimate goal of education is to provide students with the intellectual tools to get things right.
I hope, Jared, that you approach your education seriously, and that you will take the opportunity to enroll in Africana studies classes, where you can deepen your knowledge and appreciation for the long, hard, and inspiring struggle African-Americans have experienced in this country as they searched for respect, identity, equality, and rights—including the right to be called by their chosen name as opposed to whatever White people choose to call them. Take these courses, Jared, so that by the time you are a senior you can look back with intellectual and moral pride and say “I’ve come a long way since my freshman days.” If you can accomplish this, then we at Union will be justifiably proud of you as well.
Professor Robert Hislope, Department of Political Science