[Editorial] Saving Race
by The Milton Measure on Friday, September 19th, 2014
Milton’s Alumni War Memorial Lecture, established in 1922 to honor Milton graduates who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States military, supports “lectures and informal conferences dealing with the responsibilities and opportunities attaching to leadership in a democracy.” This Tuesday, the entire school attended a presentation by Professor Randall F. Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor with a reputation for fearlessness in tackling divisive racial issues. Professor Kennedy spoke passionately, candidly addressing the progress and setbacks of the African-American civil rights struggle. Our guest speaker expounded on his topic with gusto, yet the conversation itself was too narrowly focused for Milton Academy’s diverse community.
There can be no doubt that racial discrimination against African Americans in the United States is one of the most— if not the most—concrete example of societal inequality in our country, stemming from a history of subordination that has plagued America since its birth. Such injustice towards the African American populace exists today, and will unfortunately continue to do so for years to come. However, for the subject of our War Memorial assembly to focus entirely on the plight of black Americans is simply incomplete in the scheme of racial inequality. For the argument against injustice to be truly experienced, we must use examples from multiple subordinated perspectives. Milton’s choice in speaker—while made with respectable intentions—did not effectively tackle the multifaceted issue of racism in America. When we hold conversations about race, we must do so from a broader perspective, rather than choosing the struggles of a single group to serve as the example for discrimination everywhere. In doing so, we unintentionally marginalize the often unsung struggles of other minorities in America.
No one would expect Professor Kennedy to speak on pan-racial issues. After all, his specialty lies in the fields of legislature and African-American history: not necessarily in generalized racial discrimination issues; however, it is the responsibility of Milton Academy to choose guest lecturers who address issues in their entirety. These speakers pop the “Milton Bubble,” if only briefly, to help us understand and appreciate the impact of real issues that may be overlooked in our daily lives. Unfortunately, in our most recent exposure to the real world, the omnipresent issue of social inequality was limited by examples from a singular perspective—that of African Americans. In the future, Milton Academy must choose guest speakers who present their arguments in a balanced manner, with an eye towards the entire community.
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