To the Daily:
Columnist unfairly simplified the South
Arikia Millikan’s column yesterday was both an incredibly offensive and, more importantly, counterproductive call for grappling with racial issues in the United States (Life’s not black and white, 04/01/2008). I was appalled to read Millikan declare, “Some people try to say that Florida isn’t really part of “the South.” But … where Confederate flags fly high and adorn rearview windows along the outskirts of town, I beg to differ.” This piecemeal, pop-culture understanding of the South is both antiquated and insulting.
Is the South home to a race problem? Yes. Is it defined solely by its race problem? No. If the South is defined by where the Confederate flag waves, how can anyone who doesn’t adhere to the ideals of the Confederacy claim ownership of any part of it? There is complexity, diversity and struggle in the South that the author neatly glossed over to make a Confederate flag crack.
The South is not identified solely by Confederate flags. It is home to dynamic communities of African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans and Caucasian Americans. In fact, my hometown of Atlanta is a Mecca for black professionals and middle-class workers, unique among a select few cities in the United States with its vibrant racial, religious and economic diversity.
While the author sought to decry stereotypes and encourage a discussion of race, she opened her column by firing off a salvo at Southerners and the South itself, the kind of unthinking regurgitation of stereotypes against which she railed. By that I mean that, while obviously not comparable to racism, her crack at the South served as an impediment to any discussion or call to action for people who feel uncomfortable discussing such issues to step forward – in this case Southerners of any race. I agree that there is a burning need for a dialogue and renewed investigation of race, but how can that begin when one side comes to the table unprepared to respect the other?
‘U’ should push state to reform voting laws
Through our work with the University’s chapter of College Democrats, we have run into numerous roadblocks registering students to vote, creating massive frustration for all parties involved. Rogers’s law, the popular name for a 1999 state law pushed by then- Republican state Sen. Mike Rogers, states that Michigan residents must register to vote using the same address as their driver’s license. This is easier said than done.
Many students are hesitant to register to vote at their university address for fear of the repercussions this change in address will have, such as scholarship loss and insurance issues. For most, these fears are unwarranted. Still, many students then decide to forgo this hassle by choosing to vote absentee. However, in Michigan, the law states that to vote absentee you must register in person at the Secretary of State or vote in person for the first time. For many this is not an option. Thus, because many students are unaware of these limitations, they encounter problems at the voting polls. Hence, because of lack of knowledge, numerous students are being disenfranchised.
We feel that for such a progressive university, the University of Michigan has done an awful job informing students of their rights. The University should advocate for the students’ best interest and publicly support student activists who are working to end the mistreatment of student rights. The University, the Board of Regents and the Michigan Student Assembly need to send a message to the state legislature informing it that they support our efforts to end student disenfranchisement.
Carley St. Clair and Jenya Abramovich
The letter writers are writing on behalf of the College Democrats Student Issues Committee.
Forget profs, Daily pushes liberal agenda
Although Karl Stampfl detailed the donating habits of the University’s professors in his column Monday, who cares how much money University professors donate to Democrats (Leaning left, 03/31/2008)? The biggest bastion of contemporary liberalism on campus is the Daily itself, a paper that for years has prided itself on rehashing the talking points of the Democratic party. If Stampfl truly cared about “finding conservative viewpoints,” he wouldn’t have allotted the majority of the Daily during his time as editor in chief to students who bask in the ignorance of their parents’ big-government whims.