San Diego protests racist ban on campus speakers

SLL photo: Carl Muhammad

The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), a mass organization of the African People’s Socialist Party, held a news conference on the “free speech” steps of the San Diego State University campus on Feb. 19 to denounce the school’s banning of APSP Chair Omali Yeshitela and Nation of Islam leader Minister Ava Muhammad.  

Both Yeshitela and Muhammad had been invited to speak at a campus event on reparations. Student organizers, bowing to pressure from university officials, SDSU’s Hillel chapter and Zionist leaders, later “uninvited” them, prompting many to call for a boycott of the event.

Speakers at the news conference stood behind a banner reading “Africans Charge Genocide.” They included Benjamin Prado of Unión Del Barrio, professor of African Studies Dr. Adisa A. Alkebulan, local InPDUM leader Muambi Tangu, Terrie Best of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and this writer, Carl Muhammad of the Committee Against Police Brutality and Socialist Unity Party-San Diego.

“We are completely opposed to the offensive notion that Black people should be required to seek approval from the university or Jewish Zionist organizations before speaking openly about our own oppression and our own liberation struggle,” read the press release announcing the news conference.

“It is outrageous and absurd that the oppressed, colonized, exploited, suffering, resource-starved, tortured, imprisoned and brutalized African should be held responsible for anti-Semitism when it was white people, not Africans, who forced Jews into gas chambers in Europe,” the press released continued. 

“San Diego State University sits on land stolen from the Mexican people, whose holocaust at the hands of U.S. white power is continuous, made clear by the mass graves lining the false colonial border, where Mexican women, children and men have been shot and discarded by U.S. Border Patrol and white vigilantes.”

The local ABC news affiliate covered the news conference and falsely accused speakers of creating an “outrage” with the use of “anti-Semitic tropes.”  However, each speaker received favorable applause from the mostly student crowd, which numbered about 100 people at its height. No one booed, heckled or openly objected to any of the presentations. 

One person interviewed by ABC, Dylan Meisner, falsely claimed speakers “directly” incited “violence against Jewish people.”  His bogus statement was posted on the channel’s website. 

A quick internet search revealed that Meisner is not some random student. He is a journalist for the campus newspaper, The Daily Aztec, and runs a blog in which he characterized Palestinians’ rejection of Donald Trump’s horrific “Deal of the Century” as “irrational” and repeated the racist canard that Palestinians use civilians as human shields.

This writer joined the other speakers calling on the community to skip the censored event, but offered to work with the organizers to move the reparations event to a venue “so that these important voices can be heard.”