On April 8, the Journal published a letter to the editor by Daniel Hefner [Nate Rouse’s misguided actions, Viewpoints], criticizing Nate Rouse and the recent “Black Lives Matter” assembly at OPRF High School. While the letter was replete with passion, it was void of accuracy.
To start, Mr. Hefner uses statistics on crime among black Chicagoans to accuse Nate Rouse, a principal in Oak Park, of “ignoring the mayhem in his own backyard.” If Rouse is ignoring anything (which I doubt he is), it is the “mayhem” in his neighbor’s (i.e. Chicago’s) backyard, but when it comes to his own backyard, Mr. Rouse took responsibility by directly addressing the concerns that black students brought to him after the shooting in Ferguson.
Further, Hefner’s argument about violence among black Chicagoans is weakened by the fact that it relies on the false premise that violence within the black population negates the problem of violence committed against it.
Later in his letter, Hefner argues that “OPRF needs a principal who is there for all the students, not just one group,” a statement that ignores Rouse’s stated intent to extend the program with affinity groups for all students.
He goes on to endorse a “colorblind” solution to racial issues that was enforced by his drill instructor in the Marines. Aside from the fact that Marine culture is not a suitable comparison to high school, his identity-erasing suggestion is neither a practical nor a healthy solution to the color-conscious prejudice that students of color are often forced to endure, even if it is a comfortable one for those who would prefer that people stop talking about race altogether.
Finally, Hefner invokes a diluted version of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by referencing King’s oft-quoted dream out of the context of his race-conscious ideology, an ideology that is illustrated by another quote from the civil rights leader: “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”
All of that said, I do have a hope for Mr. Hefner. My hope is that he will reach the same conclusion that John Hubbuch talked about in a recent column [Going silent in the conversation on race, Viewpoints, April 8] in which he stated, “I am done with discussing race and racism because I’ve concluded that I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
Alisa Robinson, an Oak Park resident, is the founder of Elephrame and the creator of a record of Black Lives Matter demonstrations that was recently covered by the Wednesday Journal.