Rudyard Kipling is regarded as one of England’s greatest writers. However, it appears that he has fallen out of favour with today’s generation of students after it emerged that his poem, “If”, has been scrubbed off a building by university students who claim he was a “racist”.
Student leaders at Manchester University declared that Kipling “stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights” and removed the poem which was painted on the wall of the students’ union building. In lieu of Kipling’s poem, students used a black marker pen to write out the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou on the same stretch of wall. A spokesman for Manchester University’s Student Union said that the union understands it had made a mistake in its approach to installing the Kipling poem artwork without garnering student opinion before its installation.
Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England during the late 19thand early 20thcentury. His popularity however was dented during the 20thcentury when he was seen as writing from a British colonialist perspective. Some of his most famous works have been accused of having racist overtones. However, Kipling’s biographer, Andrew Lycett, said that in recent times, a younger generation of researchers and PhD students are going back to Kipling. He shared that Kipling is taught at universities more and there is “much more of a sort of willingness to look at him afresh, and to look again at his works and see what was good about him. People now have a wider perspective on the world and they see that Kipling was a sort of global writer”.
The bigger story here is actually about different perspective. People are shaped by their experiences and various influences which colour their perspective. Everyone is entitled to his or her own prerogative of opinions and perspectives no matter what these may be. At the end of the day, what is more prudent is to remind our students to have a balanced perspective and to respect others’ opinions no matter how different they may be.
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