It’s Freedom of Expression (When I Agree With It)

“Some folks have more freedom than others,” said LBCC Department of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Director Javier Cervantes. “That’s just the America we live in… I don’t agree with it, and I don’t condone it.”

Javier Cervantes led the discussion. Photo by Elliot Pond

Javier Cervantes led the discussion on Oct. 26. Photo by Elliot Pond

With political expression and freedom of speech at the top of the list for the afternoon’s agenda, students and staff filled the Vineyard Mountain Room at noon, on Wednesday, Oct. 26, for a conversation led by Cervantes on “It’s Freedom of Expression (When I agree With It).”

“You’ll be surprised at how disarming that is when you can calm yourself down enough, to think clearly enough,” said Cervantes. “When we’re on the defensive, we’re in fight or flight mode, then we get more angry.”

A remark from the crowd suggested people who result to violence are simply uneducated, ignorant, caught up in the emotion around them, and don’t have the capacity to form an uneducated, unbiased, opinion.

Others disagreed, stating it has a lot to do with where you are physically, and not just who you are as a person. Another student suggested the extreme response may not actually have anything to do with lack of education, but instead can have a lot to do with feeling in danger.

This led into another topic of discussion: introspection can lead to greater understanding.

“Our lived experiences will always put us in some kind of an opinion, somehow someway, it’s always going to put some kind of filter on how we interpret history, so you can’t stay neutral. It’s almost impossible,” said Cervantes, in reference to Howard Zinn’s “You Can’t Stay Neutral on a Moving Train.”

Some highlights from the discussion included a topic that’s been creating conflict in sports, classrooms, and the media: The decision to protest reciting the pledge of allegiance and the National Anthem.

“Nobody’s talking about the issue on why he’s protesting, everyone’s talking about him protesting,” said Cervantes, in response to the backlash following the NFL protests.

A clip from a Fox News “Face Off” episode was shown. The episode was about Matt Patrick and Houston Texas’s New Black Panther Party leader Quanell X, who discussed 10-year-old girl Skyla Madria’s decision to take a knee and protest during the pledge of allegiance.

“She knelt periodically over the past two weeks to protest the barely known, unsung third verse of the poem written by Francis Scott Key that would become the national anthem. It mentions slavery,” wrote Merrill Hope, in an article for breitbart.com.

Where do we go from here, and how do we get our points across without attacking each other? How do we talk about the ideas without making it personal? These are the conversations Cervantes believes are necessary.

“I found it interesting how we were discussing how we should present arguments and disagreements with each other. He touched on the importance of the way we communicate with each other, with our disagreements and different beliefs, and I thought that was interesting,” said Digital Art student Daner Locke. “Step back and look back at yourself, and think about the other person’s point of view, listen.”

Story by Alyssa Campbell

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