The Oberlin Review

Unity, Cooperation, Community this Voting Season

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

October 12, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

A week ago we celebrated the inauguration of Oberlin College’s 15th president, Carmen Twillie Ambar, the first Black and second female president. She wasted little time in her acceptance speech to remind us that over 180 years ago when it was legal to own slaves, Oberlin College’s founding fathers voted to be the first college to admit both women and Blacks. While today we might think that the vote was an easy unanimous one just for men to do the right thing, President Ambar underscored the fact that the Board of Trustees was actually split, requiring the chairman — Finney at the time — to break the tie. Nevertheless, Oberlin College did do what history commanded, and we can boast of our College’s long and...

Let’s Celebrate, Together

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor, Africana Studies Department

October 5, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

There is a celebration in Oberlin this weekend worthy of at least a moment’s note, as Oberlin College inaugurates its first black and second female president in its history, Carmen Twillie Ambar. Some 250 years ago, America’s founding fathers were men of towering courage and intellect, but they saw no need to free blacks or compensate Native Americans fairly, if that had been possible. Nor did they perceive the wrong inflicted upon white women by subjugating them, not allowing them to vote. However, the founding fathers of Oberlin College — in the midst of a nation insensitive and complicit in its inhumane treatment of others — did take an amazing stance by becoming the first college to admit women and blacks. Oberlin...

NFL Protest Debates Distract from Purpose

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

September 7, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: Last week, America paid tribute to Aretha Franklin and John McCain, who both strove to make America greater than ever by unceasingly underscoring the need for us to embrace differences and engage with those whose views differ from our own. We are one people, one nation, and one world, in spite of the fights we may have on any given day. This Thursday, a new National Football League season starts. Many players want to bring an end to police brutality against blacks, and last year many did not stand for our National Anthem as a sign of protesting this violence. They have a right to do as they please, but there are consequences. One has been that their action has taken most of the attention off their go...

Nation Would Benefit More From Political Unity Than Division

Booker C. Peek

April 20, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: Most of us in this part of Ohio root for the Cavs, Browns, or the Cleveland baseball team. Most people in New York, California, Texas, Boston, etc. root for their local teams. All year long there is a healthy exchange among sports fans from various parts of our nation. Occasionally, each area has its moments to brag, though some areas seem to be a lot more favored than others. The division of opinions or the rooting for this or that team has many advantages to a thriving nation. However, there should never be any division among us as a people, a nation, as far as ensuring that the poor, especially, and others receive excellent healthcare, get a fine education, have good jobs, decent homes, feel saf...

Constitution Does Not Automatically Permit AR-15s

Booker C. Peek

February 23, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: The AR-15 must be banned. Like the M-16 used in Vietnam by our military, the AR-15 was designed to kill as many enemy soldiers as possible with the greatest ease and efficiency. Some argued fiercely in the ’60s that the AR-15 should have been our weapon of choice on the battlefield, not the M-16. Today, the M-16 is not available to the public, but the AR-15 is. It has been the ideal weapon for mass killings and was used in Florida a week ago to slaughter 17 of the brightest lights for our future: those high-school students and young teachers just moments before their school day was to end. Instead, their lives ended. In 2008, the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the most revered co...

Peek Ignores Indigenous History

Will Grannan-Rubenstein

February 9, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: I was dismayed to read a specific sentence in one of Booker C. Peek’s letters about the developing legal confrontation between the College and Gibson’s Bakery (“Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Settle Out-of-Court,” Nov. 17, 2017). The offending line was tangential to Peek’s main argument, part of a brief overview of the College’s history. The line reads: “The founders of the College settled in a wilderness in the 19th century, a site where there were no humans at all.” While it may seem like a minor quibble, I find it deeply disturbing that a professor emeritus of Africana Studies, a scholar who has studied and taught about issues of American white supremacy, would fail to perceive the rich ...

Accusations of Treason Threaten Democracy

Booker C Peek

February 9, 2018

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: Donald Trump is our president, and we should all root for him to succeed in doing what is best for all Americans — even though on the very day of 2009 that former President Obama was sworn in as America’s first black president, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, expressed publicly that he was rooting for Obama to fail. He is our president because he was duly elected, though Hillary Clinton received far more of the popular — not electoral — vote than he. Surely, there can be a good debate over which is the better way to choose our president. Regardless, Trump is our president, and we want him to be successful, especially in making America greater than ever for all Americans. Tru...

Gibson’s Links Black People to Anti-Semitism

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

December 1, 2017

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: As the founding fathers of Oberlin College and Arthur Tappan, whose name Tappan Square bears because of his much-needed financial support of the College, would have wanted, Oberlin remains America’s most luminous beacon for a more just, peaceful, and humane world. As much as the Founding Fathers of our nation will always have our admiration, they showed a serious human weakness in their subjugation of women and willingness to enslave Blacks. As women throughout America need us all to step up to fight against sexism, so do Blacks need all Americans to help us fight against racism. But the middle-aged white men who feel hurt and abandoned — a disproportionate number of whom commit suicide — also need our f...

Oberlin, Gibson’s Should Settle Out-of-Court

Booker C. Peek, Contributing Writer

November 17, 2017

Filed under Commentary, OPINIONS

We should all root for a quick out-of-court resolution between Gibson’s Bakery and Oberlin College. It can be exciting for us to root for our favorite teams; that is what sports are all about. We may debate who the greatest composer is, the finest painter, or the best dancer. Having all those options is what we enjoy in America, along with the right not to take part at all. But there are times when the outcome of a matter affects us quite profoundly. This lawsuit is not a sporting event; its outcome has the potential to be earth-shattering. The founders of the College settled in a wilderness in the 19th century, a site where there were no humans at all. In the intervening period — more than 150 years — we have...

Student Debate Will Help Strengthen Personal Views

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

November 10, 2017

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: When some anti-Semitic signs appeared on campus, President Ambar announced that her administration will not automatically amplify those messages by informing the entire campus each time they appear. But she will surely do an all-campus notification if need be. I have no idea if she explained to students or the campus what her rationale was before taking this action; in any case, her position does seem to be a good one, if only because there is nothing anyone can ever do to prevent one person — perhaps not even associated with the College — from having the power to sow fear throughout the entire campus by posting hate-filled scribblings. When President Ambar visited New York City about two weeks ago, she rece...

Hope Paramount in Face of Danger

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

November 3, 2017

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: We on earth have our problems. The first is that in a second, comets, asteroids, or an all-out unleashing of the world’s nuclear stockpiles could wipe us all out. More slowly, it could be the effects of global warming. If none of these occurs to eliminate all life, then surely the best scientific evidence is that in a few billion years our sun will shine no more, forever extinguishing all of us humans and all other life. The first thought of this bleak picture is that we are doomed, left solely with our seeking to get as much pleasure as we possibly can out of our brief stay on this Earth — still brief even if it’s 90-plus years — without regard to whom or what we destroy. Thus, “Make America...

United States Must Lead in Avoiding War

Booker C. Peek, Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies

September 15, 2017

Filed under Letters to the Editors, OPINIONS

To the Editors: A view holds that we should use our superior nuclear power to “Make America Great Again.” In any nuclear war, even against Russia, China, or both combined, America would likely win. Another view is that such a victory would be a Pyrrhic one at best. For while we could destroy all of those nations, perhaps no more than a fraction of ours would remain, and those few remaining cities would present a life worse than those we witnessed at the heights of Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey, and Irma all together, but with no help from the outside world ever arriving. In effect, virtually the entire world would be on fire rather than submerged in water, with the earth’s environment being almost totally des...

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