Jessica Grosh | Why Silence Their Stories?

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Response to Diane Zimmerman, letters, Aug. 22, regarding the College of the Canyons board of trustees meeting: 

In his 1926 poem “I, Too,” Langston Hughes declared his desire to be seen as a valuable and respected member of American society instead of an inconvenience who’s told to sit in another room during mealtimes. I read this poem while studying for my degree in English (2006) and again while getting my master’s in literature (2015). 

If the world looked like you want it to, perhaps this talented African-American author would be told to eat in the other room and also be banned from publishing stories about his life experiences. 

Ethnic studies is nothing sinister. It’s educational material that focuses on the histories, stories, cultures, contributions, and the struggles of people of color in the United States. The literature of America is a rich tapestry of different perspectives. It’s about the food and music abuelas and indigenous people made; it’s about the arduous journeys people took to find sustenance and safety for their children. It’s about how Black people were enslaved and suffered the brutal effects of racism even after they got the right to vote. It’s about the fact that Japanese families were put into internment camps during World War II; and it’s about so much more. 

Many college professors are enthusiastic about teaching how race affects the past and present because, no surprise here, they are POC. Or like me, they are white but have read countless accounts of how POC have been treated in this country for the last 300 years and they want to make sure history never repeats itself. Because of academic freedom, they are allowed to mention race in any class, be it literature, psychology, sociology, philosophy, or even math or music. You may think this is “blarney” but the reason is simple: POC contributed to our world. Sometimes they had to overcome great challenges because they were a racial minority and people did not want to listen to them, and yet they still managed to make music, become doctors, publish poetry, do research and become scholars. 

They, too, are America. I have a hard time understanding why any person would want to silence their stories. 

Jessica Grosh

Former COC English instructor 

Canyon Country 

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