Charles Hilu was contacted for comment in advance of this Op-Ed’s publication.
“Truth,” “accuracy” and “objectivity” are the pillars of journalistic ethics. Sadly, it is clear that Charles Hilu, and The Michigan Review as a whole, do not uphold these cornerstones. In his article, Hilu took it upon himself to personally attack, misrepresent and degrade me, as a means to push his own racist agenda, all without ever once contacting nor reaching out to me. Hilu was supposedly responding to a letter which I addressed to the University’s Board of Regents, but it is clearly apparent that Hilu did not read my letter, or rather, his white privilege blinded him from seeing anything other than his fallacious interpretation of it.
It’s one thing to utilize the power of the pen to uphold facts, and bring forth positive change within society, yet it is another to abuse said power to attack, defame and weaponize words against someone with whom you were not even bold enough to confront and have an actual conversation with. Many who have read the fallacious article attacking my character, most definitely have a few words in mind to describe Hilu: A cowardly racist student hiding behind their white privilege.
Unfortunately, cowardly racism, white privilege and misleading quotes are far too common on this campus. One thing that was accurate within the article is that yes, I am a Black man. However I fear no man — in fact it would behoove Hilu to name one white student upon this campus whom I’m threatened by, seeing that in his article he stated that I was “threatened by white students.” In response to that fallacious statement, I quote one of my favorite scriptures: “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” Utilizing racist undertones, Hilu has compromised my safety as a Black student on this predominantly white campus. To that, I say I will not waiver nor fold, and I will continue to stand and fight for equity and dismantling racism of all forms, especially on this campus!
In the article, Hilu begged the question: “If there are too many white people in a certain place, the solution is to remove them. How does the University do this? Should it release a statement saying white people are unwelcome in a campus space that their tuition and tax dollars fund?” The Trotter Multicultural Center, as it is known today, began as “Trotter House,” a Black Student Cultural Center. African American students united under the Black Action Movement (BAM) to help students who experienced obstacles within their educational process. “Trotter House” was birthed out of this movement, founded at a rambling old house on the corner of South University Avenue and East University Avenue and named in honor of William Monroe Trotter.
As Hilu writes, yes, Dr. King did in fact have a dream, but I can assure you that his dream was not to be misrepresented, nor to have his words weaponized by cowardly racists trying to tear down a Black man. Since he likes quotes, however, here is one from James Baldwin: “I am not your negro!”
His colorblind theory solidifies Hilu’s racist nature, and the fact that he most definitely skipped his Race and Ethnicity Class requirement. Not only that, but it disappointed me that after coming to him as an adult, face to face, following the release of his article, his energy completely changed, thus further solidifying the cowardice that comes with attacking an individual behind a pen. The next time that you plan to weaponize words against me or anyone on this campus, at least have the gall to reach out to those whom you are attacking. Trotter Center would not be here without the activism and contributions of Black students on this campus.
To the readers, I would also let it be known that I did not shed one tear in this incident, as Hilu himself confirmed when I personally addressed him about said remark. Funny how racists’ energy changes when those whom they attack confront them.
Byron Brooks is a Graduate student and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.