Free speech argument ignores systemic silencing of people of color

As an intended sociology (and political science) major, I am accustomed to hearing deprecating remarks about my field from peers studying in other, more “legitimate” departments. In fact, I join in on the fun. Teasing myself is one way to cope with crippling anxiety over my future career.

Of course, I am only half-kidding.

Sure, sociology is not as scientific and empirical as biomechanical engineering, but sociologists critically dissect taken-for-granted assumptions embedded in our discourse, such as the definition of presence. Many forget that in the process of defining what is present, we unconsciously acknowledge what is absent. Unfortunately, the latter fails to receive equal attention.

Within the United States, there is a clear absence of people of color, women, immigrants, LGBTQ+ community and indigenous peoples in Trump’s priority list — the United States’ priority list. Milo Yiannopoulos argues that the “alt-right” has been oppressed by an overly “politically correct” culture on college campuses. Apparently, “liberal snowflakes” are the majority dispossessing the right to free speech of “alt-right supporters.” But the facts fail to add up: Trump’s ascendency to presidency reflects a strong following, a presence, of those who agree with his policies: anti-immigration, anti-Black, anti-Indigenous rights, anti-feminist, anti-welfare, anti-environment, and unfortunately, the hunt to erase their presence continues.

In the fall of 1964, Mario Savio, Jackie Goldberg, Steve Weissman and other leaders of the Free Speech Movement protested campus policy that silenced politically active students fighting for Black people’s presence in public spaces and access to equal employment opportunities. At one point in Berkeley’s history, businesses on Telegraph and Shattuck avenues, the two main commercial strips even to this day, enforced racially discriminatory segregative practices. Students could no longer ignore the reality that local…

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