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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Response to H.D. Stone

By: Savanny Savath, Staff Writer


Right before the winter break last year, I was surprised by the controversy sparked by my and Jonathan Franklin’s article “Can we talk about race?” I was surprised at H.D. Stone’s Op-Ed responses, specifically the first one “Can we talk about race? Yes we can” because while Stone says we can talk about race, he does not talk about race.


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He uses my collaborative article as the jumping-off point to talk about America’s founding fathers and political science. The unfortunate result is that he dismisses the various students interviewed by Jonathan and me.


I wrote the diversity aspect of my article to provide a platform for students who wanted to contribute to the conversation on race and diversity, specifically as it related to Wofford. Their experiences and perspectives are valid.


I am responding now because I have had a chance to listen to the conversations stemming from the editorials.


Before I continue, I would like to remind everyone that despite our opposing viewpoints, I am grateful for Stone’s editorials. They encouraged more students to express their opinions and to hear ones that were different. The question “Can we talk about race” was answered with a definitive yes.


An important response was a student-led discussion sponsored by Campus Union on February 24, 2016.


The discussion was moderated by junior Patrick Longest. On the panel was sophomore Essence Buckman, Stone, Campus Union president and senior Billy Moody, Franklin, and me.


Stone quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


I look to that day too, but Stone speaks as if my article was hindering our progression to that future. Racism already hinders the path. Racism exists on Wofford’s campus, and Jonathan and I simply recorded what people were willing to tell us.


Most of the racism was experienced by black students, but this discussion is not a black and white issue. The issue for me is that during my time at Wofford, I have felt an acute reminder of my skin color.


Last semester, I was singled out because of my skin color. I was attending a class’s art showing. I was standing alone, taking a break from looking at the artworks. A group of white students gathered for a picture and that’s when I noticed someone was scoping the room.

They pointed at me. They said, “I want her.” I joined the group picture, feeling happy because I was alone and now I was wanted by my peers and my school. Then it hit me. I was not wanted because of the content of my character. I was wanted because my skin color provided diversity in the picture.


I was embarrassed. I am still embarrassed. I felt betrayed by my school, which was exacerbated by my commuter status.


Writing the article with Jonathan made me realize that there is a problem with the way race is handled at Wofford. Students of color are wanted when diversity is necessary, but other aspects of their culture, which is inadvertently colored, are criticized or viewed with prejudice, distance and ignorance.


I do not have a problem with white culture, which heavily influences Greek Life. I do not have a problem with black culture, which as I know it, appears more in organizations and their events. Cultures are represented on our campus, and I am welcomed to all. The problem is when students of color are called “loons [who] obviously run the asylum” whenever they speak out about their racist experiences.


Students of color are not making race an issue. The people who are racist make race an issue.


Stone speaks from the comfortable position of being a white student in a predominately white Southern college. Not once does Stone express discomfort about his peers’ racist experiences.


He bases the existence of racism on his personal viewfinder of the world. Because he is not racist and has black friends, then there is no serious issue of racism on campus. He also immerses himself in classical texts and government major jargon while forgetting the fact that we are talking about people and their contemporary experiences.


It is also unfair to dismiss other students’ experiences because there is no such thing as a “utopic, egalitarian society.” I did not ask for such a society in my article, and I don’t think the interviewed students did as well. I don’t believe such a society will ever exist because there will always be racist people.


But that does not mean students should silently endure racism and simply focus on their education. That is like telling a person who got punched in the face to walk it off because violence is a part of human nature.


In order to see the day that MLK talked about, we must first acknowledge the problem. Racism exists. Then we can work on a solution with open, educated discussions and look toward a better future where someone’s skin color does not warrant violence and hatred.



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