San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Editorial: Black minds, like black lives, matter

Mary York
The issue: A “Black Minds Matter” course has drawn criticism from conservative groups on and off campus, who have accused the class of being designed to “indoctrinate” students.
Our take: Critics have been misleading and dismissive in their criticism, obfuscating the rationale behind the course and have used the publicity around the issue to push their own agendas.

News of Professor J. Luke Wood’s fall graduate “Black Minds Matter” course was met with swift — if not predictable — reactionary conservative outrage. Fringe media coverage has cast the class into a cause de célèbre for right-wing outrage junkies eager for any narrative that confirms their endemic campus persecution complex.

The finger-wagging began with organizer Craig DeLuz, who began a Facebook group — “Education not Indoctrination” — and issued a news release detailing his complaints about the course, namely that taxpayer money was being used to “indoctrinate our children.”

Who is Craig DeLuz?

According to his website, he is a Sacramento area “writer, actor, public speaker & media personality,” which doesn’t suggest a lot of expertise in higher education. He is an elected trustee on the Robla School Board, but most of his recent work — other than D-list movies — is as a gun rights crusader.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association also jumped in. Its president Jon Coupal told the San Diego Union-Tribune that “we should be spending public funds on courses that will actually prepare the next generation for meaningful jobs instead of teaching them how to be victims.”

The association formed after the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 and lobbies to protect property tax advantages property owners gained as a result. What that has to do with a graduate course at SDSU is anyone’s guess, but once a story makes waves, there is never a lack of those looking to drop in to advance their particular interests.

Take SDSU’s College Republican organization, for example. Under its president, Brandon Jones, it has not missed an opportunity to weigh in on news stories, even those only tangentially related to the university. The news releases have come fast with Jones at the helm, from professors’ Facebook posts to calling for the Muslim Student Association to comment on terrorist attacks. Jones even finagled backlash against his MSA release — which included some admittedly nasty threats — into an appearance on Fox & Friends.

Jones did not miss the opportunity to pile on to the “Black Minds Matter” story, either.

“The university must distance itself from this project and others like it that teach students to become victims instead of preparing them to become contributing members of society,” Jones told The Daily Aztec in a statement that echoed Coupal’s quote in the Union-Tribune almost verbatim.

None of these critiques acknowledge the facts behind what Wood has said inspired the course in the first place, nor do they even attempt to refute them.

In 2012, data from the Department of Education revealed that students of color are disproportionately faced with harsher discipline than their white public school classmates. By 2016, those numbers showed black K-12 students were suspended 3.8 times more than white students.

These numbers prove that across the country educators — intentionally or not — treat students of color differently than they do white students. The question is, why do so many find this fact so threatening that they would attempt to rally public pressure on the university to cancel a college course? Is the idea of black students gaining even a modicum of progress in achieving equality in the classroom that threatening?

The irony in casting the course as indoctrinating people to become “victims” is especially ironic coming from groups like the College Republicans, who have perfected the narrative of perpetual victimhood in their incessant whining about the hardships of being conservative on campus. Please.

The backlash to “Black Minds Matter” serves as a vivid reminder of why courses like this are so important. Too many people in this country are invested in the idea that racism is not real and spend precious energy challenging anyone who dares to take it on. We applaud Professor Wood’s resolve in creating this course, his resilience in the face of his critics and the administration at SDSU for supporting him in allowing the course to go forward.

About the Contributors
Mary York, Digital Sports Editor
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Editorial: Black minds, like black lives, matter