Every day around the world but especially in the United States, riots happen over seemingly the same issue: black oppression and institutionalized racism. Sadly most peoples reaction to the news is often something along the lines of “well, they just need to get over themselves. They just need to suck it up and learn to deal with it.”
People sit back in front of their televisions and believe that they sit in a position to judge the struggles that someone else endures. However, people who do not go through the problems that black students face every single day to not get to stand in judgement over them or their actions. The protests from the university of Missouri are a NATURAL response to the problems that the white leaders on campus refuse to acknowledge. These protests are the same type of problem solving method that Martin Luther King Jr. himself used to protest against the evils of racism. To anyone who thinks that racism died after the Civil Rights Movement: Wake up. Our fellow human beings are being treated as lesser people, pulled over by the police, being shot, and losing jobs. This is wrong. No rational person could ever justify this. So why do we?
So What Does that Have to do with U of M?
The University of Missouri is one example of the widespread lack of care for black students. University president Tim Wolfe has in the past refused to listen to black students when they approached him about issues facing black students on campus.
What are those issues, you might ask?
I’m so glad you asked! The problem is where to start. Cotton balls were spread in front of the Black Culture Center as a slap in the face towards a history of enslavement. Obscenely racist graffiti and fliers were passed around campus. A swastika made of feces was found in a bathroom. After vandalism occurred in the school’s Greek Town a school newspaper accused the black students of the act of vandalism and attempted to order them to “stay in their own little world.” After Micheal Brown was shot by officer Darren Wilson, the school refused to even issue any kind of statement. The school did not even attempt to weight the issue from either side; they did not try to weight if Micheal Brown or Darren Wilson might have been innocent or not. The only sound that met questioning students was… Silence.
Concerned Student 1950
Concerned Student 1950 is a student group devoted to ending the racist issues faced by students at the university. The name of the group comes from the first year that black students were admitted to MU. The students organized peaceful protests. No one was hurt from these protests; the only people who were hurt by these protests are those with a hatred for equality and progress.
So, pretty much no one important.
A rally on campus was organized called “Racism Lives Here.” This line was chanted by students around campus. However, this met with exactly the response that campus officials had given past issues of race: Nothing.
Most people on the Twitterverse probably got their first exposure to the Mizzou controversy from the hashtag #BlackOnCampus. This social media response became an excellent way to spread the message far and wide, as people were listening. Even if they didn’t agree, they sure as heck were hearing the message that the students of UM were sending. A few of the best tweets contain much of the fiery speech that MLK Jr. himself used. A worth tradition, by anyone’s standards. Here are a few of the very best ones:
— HeMadeAKing (@1Sherrils_2MIZZ) November 8, 2015
— Coach Gary Pinkel (@GaryPinkel) November 8, 2015
The above tweet came from the football coach at the U of M, expressing his support that black students go on a playing strike until the issue with racism is acknowledged and steps are taken to fix it. Some campus officials are on board with the good response… All is not lost!
One of the most retweeted message from the event however came from none other than Bernie Sanders who said,
I'm listening to the #BlackOnCampus conversation. It's time to address structural racism on college campuses.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) November 12, 2015
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the key: LISTEN. Don’t stand in “righteous” judgment over your peers. Don’t call them out for “overreacting.” Most of the time, we could not possibly know how someone feels or what they are going through without being them. Especially as white people, the divide between races is something that is almost impossible to understand without having gone through it yourself.
The good news: President Tim Wolfe resigned as university president. There is hope that a new president could step in and fix so many of the dividing issue that face the students. It is the 21st century… This ignorance and racism is getting old. It’s time to move on and get with the program: Black students are important. Let’s stop just talking about issues and start making changes that benefit them.
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