Black students from the Claremont Colleges near Los Angeles penned a letter to the outgoing president of Pomona College to let him know that “truth” is a white man’s construct and demand he “take action” against conservative journalists at the school’s newspaper, the Claremont Independent.
After a protest in early April of pro-police author and Black Lives Matter critic Heather Mac Donald, which shut down her planned speech, President David Oxtoby addressed all college students, reminding them the importance of academic freedom.
“Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses,” Oxtoby stated. “What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society.”
However, the three black students who penned the letter disagree and see “free speech” as something white people hide behind to protect their bigotry:
“Free speech, a right many freedom movements have fought for, has recently become a tool appropriated by hegemonic institutions. It has not just empowered students from marginalized backgrounds to voice their qualms and criticize aspects of the institution, but it has given those who seek to perpetuate systems of domination a platform to project their bigotry.
“Thus, if ‘our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth,’ how does free speech uphold that value?”
Then there is the matter of “truth” which, to them, is also rooted in racism:
“Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–‘the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.”
The undergrads’ letter also attacked Mac Donald as “a fascist, a white supremacist, a warhawk, a transphobe, a queerphobe, a classist, and ignorant of interlocking systems of domination that produce the lethal conditions under which oppressed peoples are forced to live.” Accompanying that mouthful was further accusations against the conservative speaker that her mere presence on campus threatened “the right of Black people to exist.”
These students’ demands included President Oxtoby issuing an apology for his campus-wide e-mail and declare that the college “does not tolerate hate speech and speech that projects violence onto the bodies of its marginalized students and oppressed peoples.”
There was another demand, as the Claremont Independent notes:
The students also demand that the Claremont Colleges “take action” against the staff of the Claremont Independent for their “continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds.” Taking a step further, they call for “disciplinary action” against conservative journalists from the Claremont Colleges.
“We also demand that Pomona College and the Claremont University Consortium entities take action against the Claremont Independent editorial staff for its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds,” they write. “Provided that the Claremont Independent releases the identity of students involved with this letter and such students begin to receive threats and hate mail, we demand that this institution and its constituents take legal action against members of the Claremont Independent involved with the editing and publication process as well as disciplinary action, such as expulsion on the grounds of endangering the wellbeing of others.”
In the end, there is no debating people who don't believe in truth or objectivity. Their reality is whatever serves their aims. There is no interest in searching for “the truth” because they believe everybody has “their own truth.” Plus, in their minds, they've already won the argument.