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Campus Protests Get Rid of President, but not Racism

Nov 11, 2015

An impressive protest by Black students at the University of Missouri against the administration's lack of response against racism on campus, succeeded in the removal of two university officials, but failed miserably at putting a dent in actual racism that remains prevalent on campus.

After a long string of racial incidents at the University of Missouri- more importantly, after the lack of any response to the incidents by the school's administration- graduate student Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike to demand the resignation of the University of Missouri's presidend Tim Wolfe. The action was wrapping up it's first full week with modest amounts of attention when Black players on the school football team announced a boycott of the upcoming game.

The move by itself was dramatic enough, but the school's contract required them to cough up $1 million if they missed the game. The president's annual salary is under $500,000, so his fate was quickly sealed and he announced his resignation the next day. The use of money to compel those in power to do what they do not want to do holds an important lesson for campaigns and movement building.

Even though the students were able to get the individuals in charge out of power because of their tepid response to racism on campus, getting actual racism off campus will prove more challenging.

Online death threats are being made, several buildings and local shops are closing for the day and a called in threat resulted in the Black Culture Center being locked down. So, after a devastating protest against the university caused the downfall of the president and chancellor because they failed to adequately respond to Black student concerns about racist behavior on campus, what was the response of the university to Black student concerns about racist behavior on campus? Precisely, what you'd expect.

Professor Brigham's curt refusal to acknowledge and validate the very real concerns of this UM student underscores the concerns that Black UM students have been lifting up all along. When it comes to impacts of institutional racism and flat out bigotry, the university and faculty have responded with apathy, disinterest and negligence.

Meanwhile, CNN has begun its biased reporting claiming that there have been "rumors and reports of threats" rather than simply stating "UM students received threats." And this isn't the first time we've seen this type of reporting which seeks to illegitimize and silence those who call out racism. This past summer, CNN biased reporting reared its ugly head when they reported that bad weather is what caused a string of arsons that set 10 Black churches ablaze this summer - which took place within a month of the AME massacre.

Thank you for the fine reporting, CNN.

Biased reporting or not, what is true is that Black students at the University of Missouri are not safe. Threats to take someone's life simply based on the color of their skin is a hate crime. The University of Missouri should take immediate action to remove all individuals involved from the University premises and take steps to provide protection and support to Black students from threats of violence.

Below are images of other 'reported threats.'