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Problems that Are Off-Limits to Talk about Will Never Be Solved

Oh dear … shades of the Cultural Revolution were evident recently at UC Berkeley, where students took over the classroom of a professor who had the audacity to talk about the problem of black-on-black crime.  All that’s missing is the dunce cap that the Red Guard forced once Chinese academics to wear.  Here is an account written by someone who is apparently sympathetic to the takeover:

The “no business as usual” ethos of the Black Lives Matter movement has shut down highways, shopping malls, and government buildings, but last week that disruption occurred inside a classroom at UC Berkeley when students at the School of Social Welfare turned the tables on a professor they accuse of making racist remarks.

About 60 graduate students in the two-year social work program took control of Professor Steven Segal’s classroom on Tuesday, February 24, and held a “teach-in” on racism with Segal as their primary student. Jeffrey Edleson, the dean of the School of Social Welfare, was also present.

The article quotes a student leader of the takeover as saying, “We all experienced the emotional impact of your actions. We would not be here today if this did not really immensely impact pain on all of us.”  “We cannot stand by this institution that supports your beliefs and the beliefs that you’re teaching to this class. We refuse to let this class continue as usual.”  The article continues:

The students also hung a banner reading “School of Social Welfare: Striving to Maintain Oppression Since 1944” outside the School of Social Welfare’s building on campus.

Tuesday’s protest was planned in response to comments that Segal, a white tenured professor who has taught at Berkeley for more than 40 years, made at a Black Lives Matter event on February 9 and again in his classroom on February 10. According to Ariana Allensworth, an African American student in the program, Segal disturbed attendees at the event, which was co-planned by the school administration and student activists, by emphasizing the importance of “black on black crime” during a small group discussion and sharing a rap song he had written.

“He was saying things to the effect that black on black crime is part of the problem, and I think that a lot of students in the group were offended by what he was saying,” said Allensworth. “The focus of the event was on the Black Lives Matter movement, and it felt like he was decentering the conversation from that focus.”

Alas, problems that cannot be mentioned without offending someone are never solved.

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