From the opinion editor: Opinion writing is more important now than ever



Jeromiah Taylor, opinion editor

Since the last print issue of The Sunflower, the United States has succumbed to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement has been reignited by the tragic deaths of George Floyd and others, and we as students are preparing to embark on a highly experimental semester with no real precedent.

Let me begin by saying I hope you are well — as well as one can be as we struggle to stay healthy and solvent while still doing our part to promote justice. These are exhausting times, scary times, and challenging times.

Every industry has been forced to adapt to the new world in which we live. The Sunflower is no different. We will only print one issue a week for the fall 2020 semester.

I hope that over the past several months readers have come to associate the Opinion Section with diverse, well-written pieces rooted in experience and scaffolded by thorough research.

As we move into uncharted waters, I hope to serve you as readers who are living through a global crisis with powerful stories that affirm, expand or even dismantle your own points of view.

In this time of baseless punditry and rampant misinformation, it might be tempting to dismiss opinion writing as inessential or even condemn it as harmful. Yet it is the very subjectivity of the opinion that comprises its admittedly slippery power.

The facts can illuminate ignorance. But a poignant editorial or a stellar argument can transform a person. The transformation of peoples is no small thing. In fact it is crucial to the transformation of society.

As sociologist Margaret Mead said “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

My priorities for this section include a real diversity of opinion, but especially the amplification of voices not heard, of voices essential, of voices valuable but not valued. As the United States reckons with race in the streets, at the ballot box and everywhere else, I will strive to publish Black voices as often as possible. It is only fundamentally decent to do so.

I will also be looking for creativity — pieces that are unexpected and not easily replicated. The opinion section is where writers are strongly encouraged to bring personality and even accessible experimentation to their work. I aspire towards a well curated collection of work in every issue.

Above all else, I want writers to tell their stories and I want readers to read these stories and find parts of themselves, old and new, within. Stories are an ancient coping mechanism and a way of finding meaning, building logic, rooting identity, staving off chaos and entropy.

What time other than the present could possibly be more ripe for story telling?

Let us assemble our defenses, stacking 600-word stories like sandbags against the rising tides of disaster.

It just might make a difference.