We’re too modern.
We’re so modern that we are afraid to admit it to ourselves when we see a racism problem. That was all in the past, and there’s just no way it’s that big a deal now. Right?
The University of Missouri has been through quite a lot recently. You may even be tired of hearing about it. Too bad. We all need to hear about it.
Tim Wolfe resigned from his position as Mizzou’s president on Monday. The resignation followed several weeks of alleged mishandling of racist incidents and “failure to address the lack of diversity in the faculty, among other issues.”
What we, as human beings, are supposed to be frustrated with, is racism. However, it’s been made clear that what many of us are frustrated with, is black student and activists’ reactions to the racism. People are seemingly more critical of African Americans’ oversensitivity to a problem that doesn’t exist.
What people are suggesting is that the institutional (and more recently blatant) racism experience by black people is just made up. Imaginary. Not real. Just a feeling.
“DID YA HEAR THAT, GUYS? WE FINALLY DID IT. RACISM HAS BEEN WIPED OFF THE FACE OF AMERICA. IT’S ALL GONE. WE HAVE ACHIEVED OUR GOAL OF JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE. YAYYYY!”
The denial is getting so old.
The issues of the past do have an effect on the present.
And even so, what’s happening at UM is definitely not a response to things that happened in history. And it is definitely not a result of black people’s inability to get over it. It’s about what’s happening right freaking now.
Like this thing that happened at my school last year:
I won’t lie–when I first saw this photo, I laughed. Do what that information what you will.
And this incident does not even come close to the displays that have surfaced in the other Columbia.
And when there are issues like this at my university, they are usually addressed either by the students, the president, or both. We actually care, and people are capable of listening… usually.
But lately, and not just at Mizzou, all over the place…we have decided that instead of listening, we are going to question the validity of the claims. Whenever there is an episode of pure racism, we reject its severity, and will go as far as to say that they were exaggerated.
Because the idea of a black person in the United States facing oppression or aggression because of his or her race is so totally unheard of, that the only explanation is that it was made up.
A black person can honestly be like
“You know, I’m not really sure if this should be happening…”
and everyone will be like
I do not know why it is so difficult for us to to confront the problem that’s right in our faces. Are we really going to accuse the black community of being a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theorists, just to avoid facing reality?
Remember the cotton balls? If you don’t, let me walk you through it.
February 26, 2010. (Black history month, folks)
Students at Mizzou woke up to find cotton balls spread across the grounds in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
Anyone wanna take a shot at what message the perpetrators were trying to get across?
Come on, don’t be shy.
Yep! Slavery! 😀
Fast-forward: a year later. (So, Black History month again)
A racial slur is spray-painted on a statue outside of a dormitory. On the same day, police found an anti-semitic message painted on a car near the campus.
Oh my God, the Jews too???
A UM journalism professor, Cynthia Frisby, claims she has been confronted with racism and called racial slurs “too many times to count.”
In a Facebook post last week, Frisby described an encounter with a man on the street whilst she was out jogging. The man, white, in a rebel flag adorned truck, leaned out the window and spat at Frisby. He yelled something racist, flipped her the bird, and drove off.
Exactly two months ago, Payton Head (black), president of the Missouri Students Association, described on Facebook how he was verbally assaulted while he was walking on campus one evening.
A passenger in a truck repeatedly shouted racial slurs at him.
Head, in an interview with the Columbia Missourian:
“I’d had experiences with racism before, like microaggressions, but that was the first time I’d experienced in-your-face racism.”
On October 5, members of the Legion of Black Collegians (some historic black student gov. group at Mizzou) were rehearsing for a Homecoming performance at like an amphitheater of sorts…it was outdoors, okay? So they were there, and an “obviously intoxicated” white male approached them while talking on the phone.
He entered the plaza and got up on the stage, interrupting them. One member approached the man and asked him to leave, to which he replied
“I don’t give a fuck what y’all are doing.”
When he got off the stage, he lost his balance and fell onto the pavement. He’s still on the damn phone at this point, and he was heard saying
“These niggers are getting aggressive with me.”
A safety officer, whatever that is, was present and heard everything, but did not move [quickly enough] to address the man.
A group of black students interrupt Mizzou’s homecoming parade wearing t-shirts that read, “1839 Was Built On My B(l)ack” in reference to the university’s founding. They were delivering the message that they would not be ignored by the administration regarding racial issues.
The student’s blocked President Wolfe’s convertible. People in the crowd began to yell at the protestors to “Move on.” Others started to chant “M-I-Z, Z-O-U” to drown out the protesters’ megaphone. Crowd members got in there and began to push students out of the way. Police eventually intervened and got everyone to step aside.
Tim Wolfe remained in his car the whole time, completely silent.
Then, the SWASTIKA.
Last month, students discovered a f***ing swastika scrawled in actual feces on the wall of a dormitory bathroom.
First of all…
How do you hate someone SO MUCH…
That you’d touch your own (or someone else’s) poop?
No one has been arrested, and the police investigation is still going on.
…..It’s poop, though. Can we not track the DNA of poop?
Recently, there’d been a string of extremely racist “yaks” posted on the app Yik Yak, which is like an anonymous Twitter.
Threats crowded the app just a day after Tim Wolfe resigned.
“I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”
“Some of you are alright. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”
“We’re waiting for you at the parking lots. We will kill you.”
One last thing.
There’s a group called Concerned Student 1950. This is the group of protesters that included Jonathan Butler, the graduate student who went on a hunger strike until Tim Wolfe stepped down.
Concerned Student 1950 confronted Wolfe last week in Kansas City.
In a video posted on Twitter, a protester can be heard asking Wolfe:
“What do you think systemic oppression is?”
“Systemic oppression is because you don’t believe that you have the equal opportunity for success.”
HEY. THERE IT IS. THE THING I MENTIONED IN THE BEGINNING.
It’s all in our heads. Racism is not real. Justice and equality are there; we just have to believe that they’re there.
The University of Missouri is a great institution. Academically, athletically, in research, in spirit, and so on.
But, like in many other places in this country, racism runs, and it runs deep.
The way to eradicate it, though, is not to blame the victim. Nothing is being fabricated. Nothing is being taken out of proportion. Racism and ignorance are here and they need to not be here. That is the bottom line.
Action has to be taken. If you are silent, you may as well take the side of the oppressor. These things cannot be ignored.
Please have respect for your fellow man. White, black, brown, orange, green, blue, purple, polka-dotted. Listen, learn, understand, empathize, and take the steps necessary toward a world where shit swastikas don’t happen too often.
And for the love of all things bright and beautiful, please remember,
we’re all human.