For much of America’s checkered past, being black meant having your opinion discounted by default. From the Three-Fifths Compromise that saw each slave counted as only a fraction of a person to the Jim Crow laws that disenfranchised black voters for a full century after the Civil War, having black skin resulted in a constant struggle to be heard.
That ugly history of discounting black voices is why many of us in the African-American community are outraged to find that our views are once again being dismissed as minority opinions unworthy of serious consideration. And it is why I am particularly incensed to see this latest attack coming not from the “white establishment” but from a black columnist.
When members of the Texas State University student government accused the campus chapter of Turning Point USA of promoting Second Amendment rights for just white students, TPUSA responded by noting that one of their upcoming speakers is Antonia Okafor, a black gun rights activist known for promoting Second Amendment rights as a way of empowering women and racial minorities. This response did not sit well with at least one student columnist.
In an April 19 column for Texas State’s student newspaper, The University Star, public relations senior Temi Ikudayisi dismisses Okafor and her invitation to address TPUSA, as “tokenism.” In the 600-word opinion piece, Ikudayisi argues that, because black Americans constitute only a small minority of gun rights activists, neither Okafor’s views nor her invitation by TPUSA should be taken seriously.
In any other environment, the irony of one black woman dismissing another black woman’s opinion as a minority view would be met with bemusement and incredulity. However, at an American university in 2018, this bizarre level of ideological doublethink is the new status quo.
If, despite overwhelming evidence, you still refuse to believe that political discourse at America’s universities has gone haywire, I suggest you pick up a student newspaper and start reading. After you’ve read a few pages, pause to consider that the insanity found therein will soon spread beyond college campuses.
In October 2015, pro-campus carry student group Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) criticized The Daily Texan, the student paper at the University of Texas at Austin, for inventing flimsy excuses to reject all of the pro-campus carry op-eds submitted by SCC’s member. After Editor-in-Chief Claire Smith dismissed one submission by claiming that such an article “cannot be published…by a newspapers [sic],” the supposedly unpublishable op-ed ran in the Sunday edition of The Houston Chronicle, the nation’s third most circulated Sunday paper.
That was almost three years ago. The student editors who refused to publish that well-sourced, competently written op-ed are no longer students—they have graduated and moved into the workforce. Many of them are now journalists or columnists for mainstream publications. The as-yet unanswered question is whether they carried with them the bias and deception they learned while working for The Daily Texan.
Texas State’s current crop of student editors will be the next batch to graduate. The same editors who saw no problem with dismissing a black woman’s opinion as a minority view will soon be penning columns for The New York Times or producing stories for CNN. It is possible, nay, probable that they will carry with them the same skewed perspective on journalistic integrity that they learned in college.
There is something seriously amiss in the hallowed halls of higher education. We must find a way to return sanity to America’s colleges.
Micheal Cargill is the owner and founder of Central Texas Gun Works and a guest columnist for “Down Range with AWR Hawkins.”