Aggieland Yearbook Letter to the Editor

Trey Felder is a member of the Class of 2010 and an United States Air Force veteran.

To the editor,

RE: “Black Student Yearbook looks to highlight A&M’s African-American community

It has recently come to my attention that a sign-up opportunity has been created for a Texas A&M “Black Student Yearbook” (effort presided over by one Adaeze Omekam, public health senior). I find this news to be deeply troubling on multiple levels.

As a second-generation Fightin’ Texas Aggie who happens to be black myself, I hearken back to the primary impetus that caused me to consider attending the greatest university in the world. The answer is unity. The most important thing about Texas A&M is that we all bleed maroon. Texan or non-Texan, American or foreign-exchange student, black, white or any ethnicity you can name; it’s all about maroon.

My dad (Class of 1983) embraced that. I embraced that. I cherished that. That’s why when I first laid eyes on the freshman girl who would eventually become my wife, I didn’t see a white girl. I just saw a brand new, first-generation Aggie, whom I was eager to teach all of our unique lore and traditions.

I cannot fathom a single reason why I’d have sought to be in a yearbook that excluded her, or only welcomed me, simply by virtue of our disparate skin colors, especially because yearbooks are traditionally meant to be a celebration of the shared college experience. A sliver in time for Fightin’ Texas Aggies of all creeds, united under the only color that matters in Aggieland: MAROON.

The yearbook organizers seem to think that inclusion in this publication will be tangible proof that the students therein helped TAMU become a better place. While that end goal is admirable and should be encouraged for all Aggies, I’m of the mind that the very existence of such a yearbook would undermine said goal. It flies in the face of the Aggie Spirit that can ne’er be told, yet we all hold so dear. There are countless ways to leave a lasting impact that makes our alma mater a better place. A race-exclusive yearbook is not one of those ways.

Traditional Old Army vs. New Army jokes aside, this is truly disappointing news to discover in my class year’s 10th anniversary. Aggieland is bigger than this. Better than this.

(3) comments

Rich Hansen '69

Well stated Mr Felder. I believe that the idea of a yearbook based on race is divisive. I am, like yourself, an Air Force veteran. The military taught me that race is not important. The vast majority of people that I worked with did not see color, they saw an individual working toward the same goal as their coworkers. Thanks for speaking to this issue.

Galivan

Phenomenally well said, Mr. Felder and thank you for your service.

lyle_k

Trey, you have severely misinterpreted the point of this yearbook. At a school that has historically struggled and continues to struggle with systemic racism, the experiences of students of color - who are disproportionately underrepresented within the state - are unquestionably different than those of white students. Creating platforms where students of color can be comfortable in sharing, discussing, and learning from those experiences is essential if A&M is to truly be inclusive and welcoming to all. To suggest that white students will in any way be negatively affected is laughable. Do you not think that students of color can celebrate experiences within their own race and at the same time celebrate and share experiences with white students? There's no tradeoff involved - both can be done and both contribute to the vibrancy of the campus at large. I'm glad you had a positive experience at A&M and it sounds like racial differences were not a big deal for you. But the "I don't see color" argument is weak (what do you do at traffic lights?) and fails to address the underlying root of racism. It's fine to recognize differences in race, it's how you respond to them that matters. Allowing black students to have their own space is a wonderful thing and does nothing to damage the community.

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