Today is Bruce Lee's birthday. He would have been 67: Remember Bruce Lee. What can I say, except that his legacy continues to have a profound impact on the culture at large, as well as my own life and work. He's a legend.
At the University of Washington, a group of students have started a campaign to commemorate the school's most famous student. Bruce attended the university briefly in the early 1960s, studying drama and philosophy before starting a martial arts studio in Seattle.
Now, students at UW are collecting signatures on a petition to administrators to officially recognize the man they think could be the school's best-known minority student: UW students want Bruce Lee memorialized on campus. The effort is actually part of a project for a class, "Bruce Lee Dedication":
The students collecting signatures are enrolled in a class that explores methods of activism -- specifically related to Bruce Lee's legacy. The UW's Comparative History of Ideas Department coordinates the class, which students help lead.More here: CHID seeks to honor Bruce Lee. Now, I went to a school with some relatively famous alumni. But none of those individuals are as deserving of a statue or memorial as Bruce Lee. How cool would that be? You could publish photos of the statue in UW's brochure. Hell, put it on the cover! Enrollment would jump, I tell you. Why? Because Bruce Lee is badass. In fact, the organizers should just put that on the top of their petition: "Bruce Lee is badass." That's all you need. Have students sign in, then present it to the administration. There could not be a more compelling argument. Recognize Bruce!
Students say they're trying to do something more important than honoring Lee. They're trying to memorialize what he represents: Eastern philosophies and an Asian face in a predominantly white, European culture.
And some students say institutionalized racism is the only reason there isn't already a campus memorial to Lee, who died in 1973 during what may have been a fatal reaction to a painkiller.
"There has been an apathy amongst the community, including the student body, including the faculty and the administration," said Jamil Suleman, a former UW student who facilitates the class. "They talk about these fluffy issues like diversity, but they don't talk about the real issue, which is racism."