Sunday, November 15, 2015

On telling student activists to "grow up"

Bruce Shapiro writes in The Nation: 

“Grow up.” That seems to be the main sentiment directed at student protesters at the University of Missouri and Yale this week from many quarters. On Facebook, cable news, and op-ed pages, people across the political spectrum have been cherry-picking intemperate student statements at Yale and rushing to denounce the Mizzou media-studies professor who should have known better than to try to exclude a photographer from a public venue.

I dissent. The students I know—at Yale, Columbia, and elsewhere—are not asking to be protected from the world. It’s the exact opposite. African-American students come to college already braced for every police encounter to go south. They know that one political party is trying to systematically roll back their generation’s voting rights. Even if their personal prospects seem bright, they see their own communities losing ground, a source of deep personal anguish. These students—my students—have already done plenty of growing up. If anything, they have had to grow up too soon. They are simply asking that university leaders and fellow students do some of that real-world growing up with them.

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