On Tuesday, we engaged in public discourse.Heh! Yes. Just the sort of 'public discourse' we can expect from the modern student, as taught by the modern lecturer, as David Thompson has so exhaustively documented...
Discourse facilitated, legitimized, and moneyed by the few in power is not true "discourse" at all. Those who asserted themselves in protest – an organized, deliberated and strategically executed protest, to be clear – exposed the falsity of these terms. As a young black woman, I am proud to be a part of this community.Really? I can't think why. Even at CiF, most of the comments (and there's only 43 at time of writing!) point out just what a hopeless, losing tactic it was.
When organizers spoke with Taubman Center officials, they were told that it would not be cancelled. This is not surprising. The institutions comfortably occupying the uppermost echelons of our unequal society seem to only recognize a particular type of conversation, one in which there is only one microphone.These intellectually rigorous, fearsome ‘speak truth to power’ activists wanted the talk cancelled. Yes, cancelled.
I saw Kelly assume his position of power on that elevated platform. We saw this, and we got angry. As planned, the young black man in front of me stood and raised his fist in protest, and we followed suit. We read a statement, demanding accountability from the Brown institution for bringing Kelly to the university under the auspices of a "successful policing policy" and for its role in perpetuating systematic oppression. For the next 30 minutes, people in the audience stood up – some heckling, some reading prepared statements, until the talk was cancelled.So, you got your way, through force, and by showing yourselves up to be afraid to counter his argument by anything but force. Go, you!
And then you find out that, instead of being hailed for your bravery, you are almost universally condemned. Hoe unfair!
Since Tuesday, the responses to the action show unambiguously the dangerously circumscribed place of true discourse and conversation in this country. Dozens of posts on my Facebook news feed from former and current students expressed shame at a "minority" group for their "screeching", their "uncivilized behavior", and for their disregard for "freedom of speech". Intelligent individuals wielded bluntly the "civilizing" project that sanctioned centuries of oppression. The Daily Beast, among other outlets, diluted the situation to a false dichotomy of campus liberals and free speech.Oh, how that must sting! The truth always does.
And most disappointing to me, my own university president both misunderstood the true nature of educational discourse, chastising not only students but hard-working individuals in Dare as "disruptive". President Paxson failed to mention the racist and unconstitutional nature of stop-and-frisk in her statements – she could only reduce and allude to the policy as an "opposing view".Because it is. Weren't you listening in any of your lecture? Did you learn nothing? Why are you even at university anyway?
A community forum attended by over 600 students held at the university Wednesday evening did not include, and furthermore did not even acknowledge the achievements Dare and other organizations have reached through decades of activism against racial profiling.Because they are as sick and tired of your pathetic attempts to foment revolution as the 'establishment', perhaps?
To frame the protest as an "infringement of free speech" for one of the most influential white men in America, is to deny what the protest so powerfully communicated: protest is discourse on the terms of the oppressed, and it takes a "disruption" for marginalized communities to have their voices heard.We've heard your voice. And dismissed what it has to say. So, I guess you did learn something, after all. It probably won't do you much good in whatever job you manage to get once you leave university, though...