The Importance for Young People to Be Informed of Current Events

Brian and Irene argue about whether Brian should explain the lynchings seen in the paper to their sons. He states, “At the expense of proper presentation for life and their future happiness, yes. And I’d feel I hadn’t done a duty by them if I didn’t give them an inkling of what’s before them.” p158 Write a response of which character’s perspective you agree with. Include quotes from two outside sources to help prove your perspective.

Before stating who I agree and disagree with, I would first like to discuss the perspective of each character. I certainly understand where both Brian and Irene are coming from in terms of why they feel the way they do. On the one hand, Brian feels that it is appropriate and even necessary that their sons be aware of the recent lynchings that have taken place. He feels that they should be “better prepared” to deal with the problems that young people like themselves may face when they enter the so-called real world.

On the other hand, Irene feels that the time during which Brian spoke about these lynchings was inappropriate, stating, “ I do wish, Brian, that you wouldn’t talk about lynching before Ted and junior.

It was really inexcusable for you to bring up a thing like that at dinner. There’ll be time enough for them to learn about such horrible things when they’re older.” p103. Clearly, Irene feels that not only is dinner an inappropriate time for discussion of things like lynchings, but she also feels that they are, at the moment, too young to be learning about such things.

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As previously mentioned, Brian feels it is necessary for the kids to be properly prepared for when they get older. In direct response to Irene, he states, “You’re absolutely wrong! If, as you’re so determined, they’ve got to live in this damned country, they’d better find out what sort of thing they’re up against as soon as possible. The earlier they learn it, the better of they’ll be.” p103. As seen here, Brian’s and Irene’s feelings towards the situation differ greatly.

Although, I must agree with Brian here. I completely agree that if young children understand the problems the world faces, and they themselves may have to face, they certainly can be better prepared to face them. In addition, if they can understand these problems, not only will they be prepared to face them, but they can also be more ready to combat and try and solve these problems. This is something extremely invaluable when talking about the progress of humanity. In fact, there are even some outside sources that convey relatively the same idea.

One outside source that clearly shows this idea of keeping up with the news in order to be best prepared to face the world’s problems is the story of Jesus Colon. In short, Jesus Colon is a Puerto Rican man who, in the mid 1950s came across a young white woman in a train station late at night, after midnight in fact. The white woman had, as Colon states, “two small children, a baby in her arm, and a suitcase in her hand,” making it without a doubt a difficult task to get down the steps and out of the train station.

Now, it’s vital to understand the societal circumstances during this time period in America. Racism was extremely prevalent throughout all of the United States and, along with the hysteria over McCarthyism, the U.S. was in a rather chaotic state and race relations were certainly in a fragile state. Jesus Colon’s decision on whether to help the young white woman down the steps or not clearly reflects race relations in the U.S. at the time. He states, “I remember thinking: I’m a Negro and Puerto Rican.

Suppose I approach this white lady in this deserted subway station late at night? What would she say? What would be the first reaction of this white American woman? Would she say: ‘Yes, of course you may help me,’ or would she think I was trying to get too familiar or would she think worse? What do I do if she screamed when I went to offer my help? I hesitated.” This here is a perfect example of the struggles faced by not just African Americans, but anyone who wasn’t white, particularly African Americans and Hispanics. It’s hard for Jesus to do something as simple as helping out a woman because he runs the risk of being targeted or accused of something he had no intent on doing, as he states in the article.

Now, it’s unclear from the article whether Jesus stayed on top of the news, particularly regarding race relations and the events that took place during that time. Although, he did know that the young white woman may have had different thoughts about Colon’s intentions, which was enough for him to be safe and not sorry. It’s also important for us to understand the time period in which this took place. During the 1970’s, the United States was undergoing a major shift in collective consciousness towards the issue of race, as the rise of Latin Americans became clear to the general public.

The intense riots of the late ’60s left the U.S. in shambles in all aspects of society, with race at the top of the list. Next, Latin Americans, particularly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, became more prominent throughout the U.S, and they began their own struggle for equality, specifically pertaining to social, political, and economic aspects of life in the U.S. They knew it was going to be an uphill battle, and it certainly was, and still is at that. This is why Jesus Colon was so hesitant to help out the young white woman; Latin Americans were not even close to being fully accepted and no one really knew how society felt towards them yet.

Therefore, Colon took the safe route rather than the sorry one. Although, it’s also important to understand that, based solely on the article, we do not know whether this woman is racist or accepting or what. We do not know anything about her. So, we can understand why Colon did what he did, because he didn’t know anything about the woman either. Similar to Brian and the lynchings, the news certainly wasn’t something you like to talk about, but it is necessary in understanding the problems existent in the United States, and in this case those regarding race relations.

Another outside that explains the core concepts that lie beneath the argument between Irene and Brian is the NY Times article by Nicholas Kristof titled “When Whites Just Don’t Get It.” This article talks about the problems surrounding race in America and the need for more coverage and attention, not less, when talking about race relations and the strive for racial equality. Kristof argues that many white people in America feel that race relations and problems dealing with race, more recently the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MIssouri, is getting more attention than it should be. He states, “Many white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.” This is a great example of the reason why many people do not fully understand the problems faced by millions of people throughout the country. So, if people do not fully understand these problems, how can they possibly contribute to the resolution of these problems? That seems to be the purpose of Kristof’s writing this article: to convey to the people reading the article that race needs more coverage and attention, not less, in order for us as a country to be able to successfully resolve these problems and, while this won’t happen overnight, it’s certainly possible.

At the end of the article he states, “So a starting point is for those of us in white America to wipe away any self-satisfaction about racial progress. Yes, the progress is real, but so are the challenges. The gaps demand a wrenching, soul-searching excavation of our national soul, and the first step is to acknowledge that the central race challenge in America is not the suffering of whites.” This quote does a great job of truly capturing not just the problems surrounding race, but the importance of understanding these issues and the best way of approaching them. Another aspect of Kristol’s article that is vital in understanding its significance is the time in which it was written.

The article was actually part of a 5-part project by Kristof in which he attempted to convey to the American people the importance of understanding race relations and, as he states in the article, the importance of giving it more attention and not less. This particular article being discussed was written on August 30th, 2014. Now, we must take into account the turmoil surrounding this particular time in the United States. Firstly, the death of Eric Garner on July 17th, 2014, that same summer, sparked a major uproar and social unrest not just in the 5 boroughs of NYC, but all across the country as well.

Secondly, there was the death of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which Kristof references in the article, in which he was shot dead by Ferguson police. This event added insult to injury in that, on top of Eric Garner who was just killed, arguably, unlawfully by police, Michael Brown suffered a similar fate, greatly increasing the intensity of the nationwide uproar. What these events did was, in a sense, spark the rather dormant subject of race relations in the United States. Now, the topic of race relations is never fully dormant, of course, but up to this point it seemed to have been getting talked about less and less. These unjust killings woke up the citizens of the United States and essentially reminded us that the issue of race is far from resolved and definitely needs a lot more attention than it was getting.

The context of Kristof’s article is what makes it so significant and relevant to every single person living in this country. It’s important for people to understand that race relations is something we have to continue to try and improve. Although, it’s unfortunate that it takes the unjust deaths of two, unarmed African-American men by the police for us to recognize that. Hence, I certainly agree with Brian in that it is extremely important for young people to keep up with the news and what’s going on in both the country they live in and around the rest of the world. It is an invaluable aspect of our society and something necessary for not just young people, but people in general.

People today are largely misinformed and lack substantive understanding of current global problems and as a result form rather ignorant, bias opinions. In turn, many people are not, as Brain states, “better prepared” to take on these issues, and that certainly has to change. 

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The Importance for Young People to Be Informed of Current Events. (2022, Dec 13). Retrieved from

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