ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

OUR VIEW: Surprising phone call about black DWU student was wrong

It takes a pretty wild phone call or letter to the editor from our readers to surprise us. As a news outlet that covers a large area of South Dakota, we've taken our share of complaints, unusual requests and heard some bizarre tips. To be clear, ...

It takes a pretty wild phone call or letter to the editor from our readers to surprise us.

As a news outlet that covers a large area of South Dakota, we've taken our share of complaints, unusual requests and heard some bizarre tips.

To be clear, we absolutely love news tips and when our readers tell us their opinion of our paper. But a phone call that came in Tuesday morning from one of our readers left us almost speechless.

Inquisitive and calm, the caller - who we'll choose not to name - simply asked why we decided to run "a black person on the front page" from Dakota Wesleyan University's graduation commencement on Monday's edition. Self-described as "not a racist," the caller said he is a DWU graduate who felt the photo is not a proper representation of the university and later went on to say, "The black population in the United States is a detriment to society."

Garba responded to this editorial on Wednesday afternoon.

ADVERTISEMENT

The conversation with the caller lasted about 10 minutes, with our newspaper explaining that we're not racist, we're fair, and the photo we ran was one of many that were shot at Sunday's graduation. It was a good photo of a Wesleyan student with a huge smile on his face, and our photographer did a great job capturing the moment.

That student was one of 283 DWU graduates to receive their diploma over the weekend, and, as the caller pointed out, was the minority at the ceremony.

But what difference did that make to us as a newspaper?

One of our many duties as a newspaper is to share touching moments with our readers through photography. Rightfully so, we didn't think twice about the color of this student's skin when we chose to run it as the main photo on our front page.

But we were surprised as ever when a caller Tuesday morning questioned us for doing so. He also asked us to estimate the percentage of black students at DWU.

The caller said he's voiced his opinions to Athletic Director Curt Hart about the university recruiting "so many" black athletes. The caller cited instances in which DWU's black athletes have been charged with misconduct and, we're paraphrasing here, those students leave the university after a year or two.

Is the irony not crystal clear?

This black student, a former running back on the DWU football team, completed his education with a degree in entrepreneurial leadership and was on the school's fall semester dean's list.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rather than asking the percentage of black students at DWU, we say ask Dakota Wesleyan's school administrators about the resume of this student.

A successful athlete? Check.

A successful student? Check.

A graduate of the university? Check.

Seems like he makes for a great choice to represent DWU's graduating class, no matter his skin color.

What To Read Next
In truth, getting pecked by a hen didn’t really hurt that much. But the anticipation of the pecking made me hesitate, and those uncooperative old hens took notice and showed no mercy.
People claim to hate big government, its intrusiveness, the entire tax system, overregulation of businesses and further loss of confidence in it following the pandemic ...
When it became obvious Mexico meant what it had been saying for two years, the U.S. agbiz network kicked into hyperdrive ...
During last winter (21-22) they should have let a lot more water go down the river all winter long. It might have prevented the flooding.