Classrooms: Place of discussions or censorship?


Alan Cuevas

School is not a safe place for students to express their own opinions.

As the world of politics grows more and more divided, people’s reaction to statements that don’t align with their beliefs are becoming more and more hateful. You cannot go around saying you are a conservative without getting weird, dismissive looks from peers around you. Discussing different viewpoints has become like walking through a minefield: one wrong step and suddenly you are painted as a villain.

I personally have felt this many times at school. In one instance while talking to a teacher privately per their request, we were discussing people of color in the United States and their crime rates. I simply brought up the study of  FBI/NYPD showing that African Americans in New York City have the highest arrestee rate and victim rate regarding murder. The study states that the arrestee rate is 60.1% and the victim rate is 62.6%. The reason behind this statistic is not because of racial targeting, but rather because black on black violence is prevalent, mainly in part due to gangs and such. When this fact was said by me to the teacher, I was immediately interrupted and called a racist and asked if I was a conservative. My intent with this fact wasn’t to offend the African American community, but it came in the discussion when I remember a gang prevention video where that statistic was said. 

I’m not sharing this story out of spite for the encounter I had, nor to gain any sympathy. But, the reason I am sharing this is to show students that you’re going to run into people that may not like your opinion whether they be your parents, friends, teachers, but to not let them change your opinion if you strongly believe in it and not to shy away from speaking your mind.

Everyone has their own interpretation of things, so don’t be scared to express your own. It’s the reason why there are so many interpretations of history. With all these interpretations, it is really important to be able to discuss them all. Some are obviously going to have concrete facts while others are more pulled from imagination, but everyone is entitled to their own interpretations. Some people might be more aggressive with their discussions with others, but that shouldn’t be a reason to stay quiet.


Edit (9/22/2019, 12:42 p. m.): Alan Cuevas’ statistic belongs to the report titled “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City (Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2018).” The crime rates specified in this editorial are found on Page 1 after the table of contents (Page 7 of the entire PDF).

-Emanuel Negrete, Co-Editor-in-Chief