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Students and a Professor Discuss How to Use Education
by Curtis Marez `

Influenced by the 1992 Rodney King uprisings in his native South Central but based on his experiences as a USC undergraduate in the late 1980s, John Singleton’s Higher Learning was actually filmed at UCLA (according to the director, his alma mater refused to allow him to make the film at USC). Set at the fictional Columbus University (with a statue of Columbus the explorer replacing the famous statue of Tommy Trojan), HL is  sort a of campus problem film that represents conflicts over race, gender, sexuality, and class. It suggests what activists and scholars call an “intersectional” analysis of power (while nonetheless falling short of such an analysis in many ways). The film’s intersecting narratives include: a racist, date-raping white fraternity brother; black radicals at odds with a group of white skinheads; a tough-love black political science professor; a white woman who questions her heterosexuality and becomes a feminist, anti-racist activist; and finally, a black student from South Central, Malik Williams, partly based on Singleton’s own experiences. In this clip Malik (Omar Epps) and Fudge (Ice Cube) discuss the relationship between identity, education, and politics with political science Professor Maurice Phipps (Lawrence Fishburn). How do they imagine the university, and how does their vision  with compare those in other clips and commentaries tagged “public education”?  

This Commentary is related to the following Clips:
Students and a Professor Discuss How to Use Education by John Singleton (1996) Two students and a professor have a philosophical and practical discussion of the value of college education.