This is a letter to the University of Missouri Football team, coaches, faculty, and students who are striking and protesting in light of recent events at the campus: you have done nothing but show mob mentality, true ignorance, and fear mongering can inspire the wrong kind of change and destroy the livelihoods of people unable to change the situation.
The University of Missouri's Football team and staff have gone on strike for various acts of racism within the school's boundaries. The headlining incidents which fueled the strike were an African-American student being called a derogatory name, a drunk white student shouting racial slurs at an all African-American club, and a Swastika being drawn on a residence hall using human feces. In response to these acts, both student, staff, and athletes have taken up arms against this oppression, using student protests, the aforementioned athletes and staff going on strike, and one student even deciding to go on a hunger strike to prove their resolve and beg for change within the policies and faculty of the university.
This protest had its heart in the right place: it was trying to cultivate wide sweeping change of an issue that is quite prevalent in the social atmosphere: racism. No one should be subjected to what happened to Payton Head, the Legion of Black Collegians, and the students in general after the fecal swastika incident.
But they missed a crucial detail when it came to this whole process of starting a huge protest with a hot button issue: every single bad thing that comes with it.
Lets start with the football team: the football team is responsible for bringing in truckloads of money for the school. Television deals and the advertisement alone rakes in gobs of cash to pay for almost everything on the campus, including paying for employees, campus upkeep, and other university activities to name a few. The fact that this protest caused this strike and nearly outed the entire university, the schools slated to play them in football, and a whole bunch of television stations lost a lot of money means they may or may not have angered a group of very powerful people. This is probably the least important out of all the issues.
One of the most painful facts about this protest is that this protest was going after the wrong people to incite change. Why would the president of a university and chancellor of a university be able to police instances of racism throughout the campus? Why are these men being singled out as the people who need to lose their jobs over something they have about as much control over as the person it's happening to? An even more radical action of racism may have come to pass when The Ku Klux Klan was said to have possibly been sighted on the campus to voice their opinions on the situation as well. So what you're telling me is that the two people you wanted fired from their jobs and livelihoods...was for nothing?
The protesters have begun to flee in terror of that possible KKK sighting at MU and their lives possibly being in danger. But if I were the protesters, this is exactly what I would want. The protesters do not understand what their actions entail. Something as shocking and gripping as what they did in terms of demanding, protesting, and stepping as close to the line of being violent without being violent as possible would surely rub people the wrong way. But if this is the route they want to go, then the best possible outcome has arrived for them. If they were serious about wanting to inspire change and to bring racism closer to never existing any more, they would need to go up to their detractors and open dialogue with them. Talk to them. Be friends. This would be their chance to change all of their misguided preconceived notion. To really begin the end of racism in the modern era. Dangerous? Of course it is, but anything worth its salt in this world and to be really game changing in the race issue is.
The worst part of this whole protest is that it has done nothing it set out to do. Two people innocent of the situation have been fired. Policy change within the university has not happened. People are doubting their cause and the legitimacy of it because of the shameful tactics they have used to get their story out there. In the end, their cause would have been justified if they knew exactly who to target and what to do if those perpetrators ever came forward: talk to them. Help them to understand who you are as a person. Let them feel that you are a human first and that the color of our skin does not dictate who we are and what we are about. As one species, we need to understand that racism is built off of a lack of knowledge. A lack of feeling. A lack of being able to relate because we never took the time. Now we need to make the time. For everything that has been lost in the protest and the problems it has caused, it still has the ability to make it right and to take a step in the right direction for the destruction of racism forever. We just need to start with that first step and go from there.
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