Don’t Close Your Eyes
Last week the Bobcat community was visibly disturbed by an opinion column in our student newspaper, The University Star. We witnessed firsthand that non-white people cannot criticize ‘whiteness’ too loudly.
In our studies, our English professors teach us to read critically, read for facts, and read for understanding. Still, several hundred students did their English professors a disservice last week.
One particularly misrepresented point is Mr. Martinez’s definition of ‘whiteness.’ Many readers took ‘whiteness’ to mean a person with white skin, despite the definition provided. At first, it is easy to assume that the subject of discussion is people with white skin. That is the lazy option. That is the ‘failure to read for comprehension’ option. Reading the column through the proper lens of ‘whiteness’ as a social construct will liberate you from the fear that Mr. Martinez is calling for “white genocide.” The bending of his words by large entertainment outlets like Fox News served to distract from the legitimate points he made.
Mr. Martinez, a student of philosophy, does write in a mildly pretentious way. That said, we are all capable of understanding his work and taking it for what it is – an opinion. Students, alumni, and donors alike shared in the fun of twisting Martinez’s words and condemned his supposed call for ‘death to white people.’ Are these college-educated adults incapable of reading at a college level?
Rather than choosing empathy and asking, “Is there truth in his words?”, ‘whiteness’ chose to use its power to silence those who oppose them.
With uncharacteristic speed, our university President Dr. Trauth used her power to publicly call Martinez’s opinion “racist.” Similarly, the student body president used his position to threaten the defunding of our school’s newspaper. Writers at the Washington Examiner, Breitbart, Turning Point USA, and Fox News all publicly shamed Martinez. ‘Whiteness’ works by silencing critics who speak too loudly.
When he chose to address a social issue and try to make this country a better place, Martinez spoke too loudly. He lost his job at the University Star as well as his job at a local small business. The exercise of someone’s first amendment right should not be met with punishment in a free country like ours. Our forefathers roll over in their graves.
‘Whiteness’ works by delegitimizing legitimate grievances and silencing critics who are given too loud of a voice. Our school personally witnessed both elements of that. If we want to grow from this, I implore you:
When ‘whiteness’ bears its true, ugly colors right in your face, don’t close your eyes.
-David Coby is a Management senior