Quick Hit: The Tough Conversations

I’m all worked up about this.

First, go here and read this.  No, really; I’ll wait.

You’re back?  Okay; now, revisit this:

“The Morgan State comments were Holder’s most extensive on the subject of race since early 2009, when he gave a speech during Black History Month that generated controversy and reportedly infuriated President Obama’s chief of staff at the time, Rahm Emanuel. In that speech, Holder, the nation’s first African American attorney general, referred to the country as “essentially a nation of cowards,” (emphasis mine) arguing that Americans were not comfortable enough with one another to discuss the issue of race candidly.”

We ARE largely a nation of cowards; I think that Holder is spot-on with this.

Here’s the thing; I think that we ARE afraid to talk – especially to kids – about things that matter.  I posted a comment on someone’s facebok wall this morning (I forget whose now, but it’s not important).  The post was a lament of the general disinterest of a lot of young people in politics and voting.  You want to complain that young people are apathetic about voting? How about letting their teachers talk about current events and topics that most parents and administrators are afraid of because they’re “sensitive.” Give young people the environment and support they need to learn how to think critically about important things; race, poverty, sex and sexual identity, privilege. Unless and until we can have honest (and yes, sometimes difficult and uncomfortable) conversations about these things, we’re never going to progress beyond where we are, and where we are is not okay – not by a long shot.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Quick Hit: The Tough Conversations

  1. This gained a great deal of attention here on my campus. The key of course is the complexity of the matter in the mythical post-racial world. Holder is correct. There is a fear when it icomes to race — surprisingly by those who call themselves white liberals.

  2. Here’s what I want to know, though; as someone who is NOT afraid to talk about these issues, I have been accused of being “insensitive” and “confrontational” and, of course “too political” whenever I tried to talk about these things in the classroom. Parents were offended that their kids came home and talked about the conversations we’d had around topics in Native Son (or, you know, things that were happening in the news; I had one parent call to complain that I’d discussed lynching in the context of the Kelly Tilghman/Tiger Woods uproar in 2008. I’d used the (then) current event to discuss the First Amendment). HOW, exactly, do we expect young people to grow into thoughtful, intelligent adults if we don’t give them the space, the opportunity, and the models for practicing critical thinking skills?

    • I like the way you presented your argument above; if we cannot discuss the uncomfortable nature of race and racism in the classroom — I am not sure where. Your point above sounds like a school cultural issue. Linking what Tilghman said about Woods to Native Sun further expresses the reasons why she was condemned in the present fashion. White liberals fear the topic out of guilt. Conservatives fear it because such a topic exposes their beliefs. As a teacher, particularly in an English course, it must be discussed.

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