Living where I do, here at the edge of the South / edge of the Midwest / sort of almost Texas, in what is indisputably a Red State, but nonetheless very close to a college town, though also a working class town, it's -- how do I phrase this? -- an odd experience.
Very nearly the first thing that happened after I moved here, back in 2004, was Arkansas voters passing an amendment against LGBT marriage being recognized in the state. I remember my shock at how vehement my students -- my little baby freshmen -- were on the topic. I remember saying in my freshmen class that there was nothing wrong with being gay, and having the class rise up in shouting and mocking fury to rebuke me.
"Yes, there is!"
"Oh, yes, there is!"
The smug glee in their eyes as they realized they were all united against me.
Just ten years ago.
Now some of my students* -- as I'm discovering more from Facebook than from anything any of them are saying in class -- are united in their conviction that Mike Brown is a thug, that he deserved to be shot by Darren Wilson, that the black people who are protesting are looters, criminals, and probably need to get jobs.
This depresses me as much as my students back in 2004, I have to say.
Here's hoping that in 2024 I can look back on this post, as I look back on my students of 2004, and think about how much the world has changed.
*By no means all of my students. This is a big difference from 2004, when 75% of Arkansas voted for that stupid, evil, vile amendment. I'd say only 30 or 40% of my students, if that, are Wilson supporters.
20 hours ago