Dr. Hinton’s Open Dialogue on Racism in America 

Emma Delk, Staff Reporter

In the last Honors Association Lobby Talk of the semesterFairmont State University Professor of Business Law, Dr. Gregory Hinton, hosted an open discussion with students in the Honors Program at Fairmont State about racism in America. He wanted to open up a dialogue between students and him so he could answer any questions they had pertaining to race, discrimination, or anything else that a student could think of. 

Dr. Hinton believes that one of the best ways to confront our past is through having frank discussions, saying “We cannot deny things or just turn over a new leaf. We need to acknowledge where we are and where we have been, no matter how many don’t want to and just want to sweep our past under the rug.” 

Dr. Hinton discussed the past that we sweep under the rug. He believes we hide from our past by not teaching young children the truth about our racist history, particularly the racism of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers of the United States. He believes that we are taught the wrong history in schools. As a child he was taught that Lincoln freed slaves out of the belief of the equality of the races. Later on, though, Dr. Hinton learned that Lincoln was just a patriarch, and any actions he made toward emancipation were to save the nation, not for the freedom of enslaved black people. Dr. Hinton did not learn this important fact about Lincoln until he was studying on his own, outside of school. He believes that we have to learn a lot of hard truths on our own through our own research. 

Dr. Hinton says, “I find it appalling that I have learned more history through my own studies and research than in college when I was a history major. We have a great history program at Fairmont State, but we cannot teach what we do not know.” 

In the Lobby Talk, Dr. Hinton also discussed how the media impacts our own internal biases. He believes the media does a very poor job charting the course we are trying to take as a nation, as they would rather portray the negatives of our society than the positives in it. There are many great stories that the media does not talk about. Dr. Hinton says he saw a story aired shortly after 9/11 about four white firemen saving a black woman from a burning building. He explains how we rarely see positive stories like this, where the goodness of humanity is actually shown. 

Dr. Hinton says, “If I was in the media, I would air stories about people not seeing color and instead people seeing human beings. Just like the four white firemen saving the black women from a burning building, skin color did not matter, it was only men protecting their fellow human being.” 

Through the dialogue Dr. Hinton opened up, students were able to learn about the United States’ dark, hidden past and what they can do to make sure the past does not stay hidden. One of the ways to do this is by having the uncomfortable discussions that we would usually avoid.