I applaud Penn State President Eric Barron for supporting the protesters at Penn State.
Many of the letters criticizing Barron are imbued with a heartbreaking ignorance of the trauma felt by black Americans and the wounds reopened by recent events.
“Hands up” is not just about Ferguson. Ferguson is not just about Ferguson, nor Eric Garner just about Eric Garner. Nationwide, black communities are wildly over-policed, subject to levels of surveillance, criminalization and police violence foreign to most white communities.
Those legal double standards are situated in a racialized history of redlining, ghettoization and mass incarceration.
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Even if the 16 witnesses who said Michael Brown put his hands up were mistaken, police throughout the country still order literally thousands of young black men to put up their hands every day, often for no good reason.
Not only do the letters show that some in this country are willing to sustain these current mechanisms of racism, they also show a firm dedication to ignore them.
Supporting civil rights has never been easy — not in 1859, not in 1963 and not today. Inevitably, some will furiously guard their own privilege.
Recent events have called forth deep-seated feelings of alienation and stigmatization in many minorities.
Barron has shown those students that he empathizes with their trauma. In doing so, he has recognized that they, too, are a part of the Penn State community.
New Haven, Conn.