COLUMN: I was absolutely wrong

Aman Ali

What was I thinking?

I am sorry for the explosion my article “Black people need to start sharing” has created since Monday. I’m writing this piece to the entire community, regardless of race, gender or religious affiliation. No jokes, random references or banter this time.

As I’ve done in my columns all semester, I was trying to use humor to provoke thought. I was absolutely wrong. I’ve hurt people, and I have to deal with that.

You would think I – as an Indian Muslim, almost a double stereotype in today’s society – should have known better. I wouldn’t like an “outsider” to be making fun of me either. I’m terribly sorry for my hypocrisy.

I could sit here and explain what on earth possessed me to do such a thing, but that would simply justify what I did. It was stupid and wrong. Plain and simple.

I appreciate the feedback from everyone, most importantly the black community. I now understand I’ve hurt them.

I wish this whole thing never happened, but I know I must face the reality. I’ve created an explosion.

What I appreciate the most is what people like Pastor Aaron Wheeler from the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and Matthew Cox from Black United Students did with me yesterday. Alongside many other people including editors at the Stater and representatives of Kent State’s administration, Wheeler and Cox have slapped some sense into me. And I know I need a lot more slapping. My meeting with them is definitely the first of many to come.

The people in that room could have used other means to express their grievances. I could have other troubles and even concerns for my own personal safety. There are people out there who want to attack me, and Cox and many other individuals out there are willing to reach out and control that. What I’m thankful for is that Wheeler, Cox and the other people in that room yesterday had the mercy to sit down with me and talk. They, too, just like myself and the other people at the Stater, want a productive and just resolution.

I do not feel forced to write this apology by anyone. My editors did not tell me, “Aman, I think you should say _____.” I’m writing this to express my sorrow for the pain I’ve created, and I’m also writing this for myself.

I am not asking for your sympathy. In fact, I don’t deserve it. What I am asking for is continuing the dialogue that has been generated these past few days so we can move forward. My contact information is at the end of this, and I will arrange some sort of meeting with anyone to talk about this matter further, if desired.

I owe an apology to the rest of my staff who have gotten heat for this column, especially Michelle Park, this newspaper’s editor. She had strong hesitations about running my column. I can barely even look at her, let alone anybody else I’ve hurt.

I have damaged the credibility of the newspaper. It pains me that I’ve hurt my staff after serving them for the past two years. My future at the Stater is in my editors’ hands, and I am willing to face any discipline they give me.

My biggest fear is my column will hurt Kent State’s reputation. Coming to this university is by far one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. What I don’t want to happen is potential students being discouraged about coming here. The university, which as a whole takes measures to ensure diversity and acceptance of all students, deserves an apology, too.

I’m not trying to downplay the complaints I’ve received, but I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. Regardless of my intentions, however, I have hurt people, and I have to face God for that.

Aman Ali is a senior newspaper journalism major and the assistant Forum page editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].