My students were less moved by today’s speech than by the election (as was I). It was a big moment, but nothing compared to that night.
They remain deeply concerned about Obama’s safety, suggesting that he is in danger from “all the white people who don’t like blacks.” I ask them for evidence, and apparently one crazy woman falsely accused Obama supporters of attacking her. That’s all they got. I emphasize that all presidents get death threats, and that I haven’t heard anything about Obama being an unusually popular target. It’s a common thing for these guys to worry about physical safety in situations I expect to be reliably safe. Every time we go on a college visit, they ask about security right away. Someone always asks if guns are allowed in the dorms. Another thing I say again and again is, “College campuses are really safe. The reason these college shootings get so much attention is that they are RARE.”
We had some nice discussion provoked by the kid who says, “Why you like Obama? Just cause he’s black?” And by another kid who says, “Every president is great at first, but then people start to get mad at them.”
All of them are choosing a quality that they share with Obama and signing their name underneath it. Then they write and draw a little about this quality, so we can display them around the room. The qualities are: raised by a single parent, in need of scholarships, inspired by Shakespeare, faith in the United States, able to overcome obstacles, religious, diverse background. I do solemnly swear to promise to look at these names, and these qualities, next time I want to kill one of them.