11.07.2015

Concerned Student 1950


Back in August I shared about some of the injustice going on at my graduate school. Since then, there have been a series of events that reflect a much larger and longer standing issue. The semester has been called "a historic fall." Click HERE to see a timeline of all of the events that have occurred as I am only going to cover a few of the many incidents.

The larger and longer standing issue? Systematic oppression. Racism. On September 11th, the Missouri Students Association's President, Peyton Head, was walking through campus when a group of white men in the back of a pickup truck drove by him and yelled racial slurs at him as they passed. The Chancellor did not respond for six days, which prompted the first "Racism Lives Here" rally. On October 1st the second rally took place.

On October 5th, a drunk white male walked on stage during a homecoming royalty court rehearsal for the Legion of Black Collegians. He wouldn’t leave when asked. He then “stumbled off the stage,” and said “these n*****s are getting aggressive with me.”

On to the October 6th sit-in at Jesse Hall, the university's administrative building. Students and staff joined together to protest racism and administrative inaction on campus.

At MIZZOU's homecoming parade on October 10th, Jonathan Butler (remember that name) and a number of my peers, and friends, were protesting racial violence. When Tim Wolfe, the President of the university, pulled up in a classic car the protesters blocked his path. “We stopped him, specifically because after years of constant emailing, letter writing and social media outreach, he had still not responded to the issues of racial injustice on the largest campus in the state,” a letter said. When the police department arrived, 11 of the protesters were met with force and threatened with pepper spray. One demonstrator was bumped by Wolfe's car. The following video will show you what happened. Please, pay attention to the fear and hurt in this video. I'm warning you, it's disturbing.

Protest stops parade from Columbia Missourian on Vimeo. You can see the full video HERE.

See the man looking outwards at the camera in the fixed frame above? That's a PEER of mine. We sat next to each other every day for 8 weeks straight this summer. His name is Reuben. He's a great guy. He's a christian and wants to make a difference in people's lives, just like I do. And this is how he is being treated. As if he is somehow lesser than the rest of us. Is that personal enough yet? These are good people and they are hurting because of oppression many of us cannot (or might choose not to) even see. JUST THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT PLEASE.

The events continue. 

On October 20th, Concerned Student 1950 issues a list of demands and gives the university 8 days to respond. Demands include removing Wolfe from office, increased hiring of professionals of color, and diversity training for MU. 

Four days later, on October 24th, Residential Life staff finds feces smeared in the shape of a swastika on the floor and wall of a bathroom in one of the on campus dorms. A similar event occurred in April.

image via
Moving on to November 2nd. Jonathan Butler (remember him from above?) begins an indefinite hunger strike. The strike will continue until Tim Wolfe is removed from office. The next day, Wolfe issues a statement about his concern for Butler's health. Butler then signs a do not resuscitate order. Personally, I'm terrified. I'm terrified that this wonderful man's life is going to be lost in this fight.

Since then, there have been a number of statements made by Wolfe, the chancellor, and a number of departments at the university. However, the problem is far from solved.

Still don't believe this is a reality? Let me provide some compelling evidence:


Here is where I'm going to weigh in on the things that have been happening around campus. Being a white female, I often times don't realize the privilege that I have. That stops here. I'm determined to start educating myself and opening my eyes up to these issues. Silence on my part is just contributing to the problem. One article stated:

“If you see violence like this and don’t say anything, you, yes YOU, are a part of the problem.”

 

Whether you agree with what is going on or not, I URGE you to see that people are hurting. People are scared. No one should have to feel unsafe on this campus. No one should have to fight for basic rights that are just handed to the rest of us. I should NEVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE have to hear my friend say she wishes she could just wipe off her skin color. I should never again have to watch people cry so heavily due to the lack of hopelessness they feel about change. I should never again have to see my classmates struggle to sit through their classes because of their anxiety and stress. NO. THIS STOPS HERE. 


Peyton Head, MSA President, said “Of course there’s a lot of hurt and pain that’s associated with living in a world that’s not created for you,” he said, “but at the same time, if you’re not able to vocalize that to the people with privilege, who can help change that world, who have the institutional privilege to create change, then there’s no way to see change.”

So, the question is: how are you going to use your privilege? And I say "you" because most of those who read my blog are privileged whether you recognize it or not.

“If your simple existence is not a political statement, I’m really going to need for you to check your privilege,” Head wrote in his post.

 

So how can you help? Here's a list of my own ideas and some that others have shared online:

1. Recognize your privilege.
2. Follow along with #MizzouHungerStrike and #ConcernedStudent1950 on twitter. Share and weigh in but only if you're willing to be respectful.
3. Pray.
4. Educate yourself about racism and systematic oppression.
5. SHARE what is going on at Mizzou. There has been a lack of coverage of this issue in the national media and it needs to be shared. People at the university don't even know what has been going on around them. It's as simple as sharing this post with friends.
6. DIALOGUE. We must talk about this more. I'd love for you to use the comments below as a SAFE place to start doing so.
7. See the below list from Jonathan


PLEASE choose to stand up and fight with us. This has been going on far too long.
 

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