Mizzou, My Alma Mater, The Place Of Pain And Progress
This morning my best friend texted me asking, “Gurl wtf is going on at Mizzou?! It sounds terrifying.”
If you read my piece about the University’s president resigning, then you know that I, along with my friend and co-worker Victoria Uwumarogie, attended the university. And the racially charged incidents that are happening on campus did not just start this year. I said it in the other piece but it bears repeating. The university was built in a slave state, funded by a slave owner and built by slave labor. Black students who attempted to attend the university literally turned up missing. And in the four years that I was there, the N word was spray painted on resident halls and cotton was thrown in front of our Black culture center.
So I responded, “Gurl what’s been boiling under the surface from its inception.” I expounded telling her that the White folks on campus and beyond got a chance to see Black power in action. It was swift, immediate and a threat to the power White people on that campus, our campus, and in that community have exercised since 1839 when Mizzou was founded.
I’m never surprised by what threatened, racist White people will say or do.
Still, as a person who walked those streets, occupied those classrooms and lived in those dorms I am deeply saddened and disturbed by what students who look like me are experiencing and enduring in the wake of their heroic and history making protest.
To answer my friends question more specifically, since Tim Wolfe resigned, things have gone from hate speech and symbols to threats being launched directly at Black students.
The day after Wolfe resigned, an anonymous user on the social media site Yik Yak posted this message.
Obviously, this message was not only threatening in that he talked about ending the lives of innocent Black students, the hateful threat was taken a step further when he mentioned “state your ground,” like George Zimmerman.
Today, at 6:00 a.m., the university released this update.
NOV. 11, 2015, 6:00 A.M.
University of Missouri Police have apprehended the suspect who posted threats to campus on YikYak and other social media. The suspect is in MUPD custody and was not located on or near the MU campus at the time of the threat. We will update this website as additional information is confirmed. MU is operating on a regular schedule. Please check here for official information. Safety is the university’s top priority and we are working hard to assure that the campus remains safe while information is obtained and confirmed.
This is the official University of Missouri emergency alert website. Whenever an emergency occurs that affects the university community, this website will be updated as quickly as possible with the most current, confirmed information. Please check here for official information. So that phone systems do not become overloaded, please do not call MUPD as they are working hard to confirm facts and maintain the safety of the campus. We are in touch with them as they work through the process and will update this website as quickly as information is received and confirmed.
Safety is the university’s top priority, and we are working hard to assure that the campus remains safe while information is obtained and confirmed.
The news that the suspect was apprehended helps a bit. But it’s not enough to ensure Black parents that their children are safe at this university. It’s not enough when this person was not the only one making threats. It’s not enough when the KKK were spotted near campus. It’s not enough when Black students and faculty can tell you about their first hand accounts of being harassed and called ni–er. It’s not enough when Black students, just like every other student, are paying thousands of dollars to attend a university and live on its property and feel unsafe as a result.
It is terrorism when White students are riding around in pickup trucks chanting “White power” and Black students are evacuating the campus they call home because they feel unsafe. But because it is White people who are perpetrating these threats, excuses will be made and rationalizations will be given.
The thing is, all of this is bigger than Mizzou. Later on in our text conversation, my friend, who attended the University of North Carolina, said “The scary thing is that could be any Black body at a PWI (Predominately White Institution)…” And that’s true. Institution in this sense doesn’t even have to refer to a college or university. There have been signs pointing to the microcosm Mizzou represents for years now. People love to say, “it’s 2015!” or “racism is a thing of the past” but a quick scan of this year’s headlines alone prove that blatantly inaccurate. White men and women have been terrorizing Black people for centuries but even more publicly this year.
Shaun King said it best:
I’m deeply saddened by everything that is happening at Mizzou, a place I called home for four years of my life. But there is also another part of me that recognizes that this is how racists act when their power structure is threatened. And I’m inexplicably proud to know that the change that is making the White power structure so uncomfortable is happening at my alma mater.