Do You Hear the People Scream?

Do you hear it?  The sounds of disgruntled masses, yearning for their voices to be heard?  A campus rocked to its core by divisiveness and violence?

With the fall semester comes the return of politically-charged protests on campus.  In my years here, protests have become yet another part of everyday life in Ann Arbor.  However, recent bouts of anger and activism cannot be dismissed as the norm.

In only the first month of classes, massive demonstrations have taken the Diag by storm.  A few weeks ago, graduate student Dana Greene, Jr. knelt on the diag for nearly twenty hours, accompanied by hundreds of supporters in solidarity with similar gestures in the NFL.  In a statement released on Facebook, Greene remarked, “I am not kneeling in disrespect to our troops or to our country. I am kneeling because we should be better than this. I am kneeling because I am tired of doing nothing.”

More recently, discussion over renaming efforts of the C.C. Little Science building came to a head during a panel discussion at the Michigan League, where BBUM members protested the university’s perceived lethargic response toward the issue.  LSA Senior Joshua Hasler, who recently interviewed with the Review, noted that “Little was one of the founding fathers of the American eugenics movement […] and it became clear to me that he stood for white supremacy.”

So, in the wake of these tragic outpourings of consolidated grief and anger, what should we, the university community, do about it?  Do we dismiss these protests as just another example of the rebelliousness of youth, or do we join them arm-in-arm and take a knee across campus?

Worst of all, some protests have turned violent.  In late September, protests over the university’s handling of racial slurs written across campus — even in residence halls — led to arrests as a fight broke out near President Schlissel’s house.  Conflict sparked after an unidentified man shouted racial slurs at the crowd of protesters, leading to fights and continued demonstrations on Schlissel’s front lawn.

Schlissel, in his characteristically removed demeanor, remarked, “Racist comments and this kind of verbal violence and vandalism – there’s nobody who thinks this belongs here.  There’s a person with a Sharpie who is trying to hurt us, and there’s probably more than one, but it’s not representative of who we are as a community.”

So, in the wake of these tragic outpourings of consolidated grief and anger, what should we, the university community, do about it?  Do we dismiss these protests as just another example of the rebelliousness of youth, or do we join them arm-in-arm and take a knee across campus?  Or, could we set our petty differences aside and work together as a community to accomplish tangible policy solutions that benefit us all?  Nah, too idealistic of me.

I’ve often seen my fellow peers succumb to the temptation to view these protests as nothing more than the whiny outbursts of pompous elite college students with too much time on their hands.  And, to be honest, I held the same view for quite a while.  College, in a way, serves as a comforting womb for political discourse.  Along with your first taste of the joyous freedoms and nerve-racking responsibilities of adulthood, being a college student means that, for the first time, your opinions are legitimate on a national scale.  People now care about what you have to say.  With your thoughts given proper credence and a community of intelligent individuals ready to listen, college presents the perfect state for bright young college students to share their views on the systematic flaws of society.

But college exists in a vacuum, apart from the very real consequences of the job market.  In most cases, students are not employees, nor are they left to fend for themselves financially.  Given the median family income of a Michigan student is a whopping $154,000, the average student clearly receives some form of financial assistance from their parents.  Because of this, college coddles students from the harsh realities of personal finance, as you aren’t personally beholden to the consequences of a tax hike or fluctuations in the job market — at least temporarily.  Therefore, it makes it rather easy to advocate for progressive economic change when you do not personally bear the costs.

While this logic may hold for financial issues, social issues present a far different issue.  For the marginalized communities who suffer under the hands of oppression every day, students on campus rely on social change to improve their livelihoods, both on and off campus.

I’ve felt heartbreak.  I’ve suffered through broken relationships and personal failures that churn my stomach and overwhelm me with despair.  But this pain is temporary.  With a pint of ice cream and a quick binge of Mad Men and BoJack Horseman, I wipe the tears from my eyes and move on.

All these concerns are real, experienced daily by the minority communities afflicted by them.  Their pain doesn’t get a reprieve from oppression just for being a college student, and neither should their views.

For the victims of racist and discriminatory acts on campus, their pain seems eternal.

Imagine walking around town, constantly hiding from the derisive stares of people who instinctively think less of you because of the color of your skin.

Imagine fellow students avoiding you like the plague, fearing the worst of you for no reason other than the veil on your head.

Imagine feeling so alone in this world, ostracized from the people you care about most, simply because you want to express the person you are.

Imagine starting a movement meant to shed light on the increasing problem of police violence, only to have your intents contorted as an attack on America’s veterans.

All these concerns are real, experienced daily by the minority communities afflicted by them.  Their pain doesn’t get a reprieve from oppression just for being a college student, and neither should their views.

My heartbreak pales in comparison to the devastation and helplessness I’ve witnessed in the victims of racist acts on campus.  If my heartbreak causes me such immeasurable pain, I can’t even imagine the cataclysmic physical and mental agony they must experience every day.

So to you, the oppressed, I say: scream on.  Kneelers, keep kneeling.  Even if 49 percent of Americans disagree with your actions, your right to kneel is inalienable.  Those protesting the C.C. Little renaming effort, keep badgering the university.  Maybe if enough people voice their opinions over such a simple issue to fix, the administration might remove the paperweights from their hands and act.

And to you, the marginalized communities on campus, I offer words of hope that will likely seem irrelevant coming from a white guy behind the screen of his laptop.  We support you.  We’re here for you.  This is your home, too.  And we want to hear you scream.

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About Jake Thorne

Jake Thorne is Editor-in-Chief of the Review, studying Honors Political Science and Economics at the University of Michigan. He has been an active contributor to the Review since 2014. He can be reached at jnthorne@umich.edu
  • r minty

    Imagine constantly hiding from the looks of people wary of you because your own kind commit demographicly grossly disproportionate numbers of violent crimes, including assaults and murders.

    Imagine fellow students avoiding you like the plague, fearing the worst of you for no reason other than the the fact that you are advertising your adherence to the tenets of an evil cult that maims, murders, and makes war on anyone not in that satanic cult and who claim that the entire world is theirs to conquer and own, while all others must submit in every way, no matter the indignities imposed upon them.

    Imagine feeling so alone in this world, ostracized from the people you care about most, simply because you want to express the moral and sexual deviancy, separate from what has been recognized as biologically and morally normal for eons.

    Imagine starting a movement meant to shed light the trivial “problem” of police violence compared to the amount of self-inflicted violence within your community, while also intentionally attacking America’s veterans, who put their lives on the line protect your right to bitch about the Police and Military, in order that you may espouse your hatred of them.

  • Gold Star

    GOLD STAR comment, congratulations!

  • WeyerBacher

    I accidentally stumbled upon this website while searching for important stuff. So this is where you are brainwashed, huh?
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/552d2899af0e980d64880f5aee973867e837a62dfbd7575fd1924bff0d767434.jpg

  • It absolutely was derogatory and it should be. This author deserves nothing but ridicule and contempt for turning the Review into a slumber party.

  • Matt Myers

    Derek, I am so glad you pulled out the quote on how the author deals with tough scenarios. Comparing that to your way of dealing with your feelings is quite interesting. Making yourself feel good by posting desperate and purposefully derogatory comments to show your childlike maturity is much better that the author’s way.

    Hope you find a way to deal with your insecurities.

  • Josh Hasler

    , Derek frantically typed into his computer during the wee hours of the morning, caffeinated, depressed, and utterly alone – like all other trolls.

    Calm down snowflake.

  • This is absolutely embarrassing. You should be disgusted with yourself for where you’ve taken the content of the review.

    “With a pint of ice cream and a quick binge of Mad Men and BoJack Horseman, I wipe the tears from my eyes and move on.”

    I’m willing to forgive bombastic writing from an idiot college student. I can’t forgive weakness.