Jordan Washington –
Recently in the news, the University of Missouri, more commonly known as Mizzou, has been catching a lot of heat. Tim Wolfe, the former president of the college, has resigned due to student protests in response to his administration not doing enough to address several racial incidents which have occurred during his tenure.
Being black in this country is a struggle at times, and any time I see things like this on the news, I am grateful that people are starting a much-needed dialogue about race in America. But I am also fearful, because of the time period that these events are taking place and who is perpetuating these terrible acts.
Race is an issue that people seem to tiptoe around. Some individuals may think, “If it doesn’t affect me, I don’t have to care,” or “If I’m not associated with any minorities, I don’t have to think and speak about it.” It may be a controversial issue to bring up and talk about it, but it is necessary with the events going on in the news as of late.
To white people: realize that it does affect you. You are part of the majority, but that doesn’t mean that you’re immune to this social ill. In a way, it is your job to not perpetuate ‘white superiority’ and to help your fellow human beings of color when they are in a situation like this. White people do have the power to help. Staying silent because it makes you uncomfortable or because it doesn’t directly affect you are bull crap ‘rationalizations.’ Use your power for good, because the more you ignore it, the more the problem will persist and worsen.
When I hear and see events like this, I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s 2015, NOT 1950. We, as a society, have made a lot of progress in regards to race, but we still have a long way to go if we ever want a utopian state of mind in regards to race. One might think that given all the progress we have made, racism is non-existent. Just because you don’t see ‘Colored’ signs around, that doesn’t mean that the disease is cured. Racism pervades the social, political, and economical sections of our country, and it has for quite some time. If you’re a part of the majority, it makes sense that you would think that racism doesn’t exist because of the way our society is structured. People who are white always benefit from it. Just look at the Trayvon Martin case. George Zimmerman should have been convicted, but because of the way society is structured, and the terrible ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, he wasn’t sent to prison.
College campuses have a responsibility to our world and to the young student culture to keep these dialogues open, and to create a safe space where individuals are allowed to express their thoughts and feelings regarding race. All too often, people seem to get shut down when they want to talk about something that directly affects them, or are told to “Get over it!” or don’t discuss it because it makes them ‘squeamish.’ Getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to issues like this is very necessary. If we continue to let the status quo rule, who knows where we’ll end up 2-5 years from now.
America is a beautiful mosaic of cultures and people. We need to celebrate that diversity instead of degrading people and cultures that aren’t a part of the majority. I’m glad that there is a dialogue beginning, thanks to the students and faculty of Mizzou, because the more we push for those conversations, the we will be closer to eradicating ludicrous actions and thoughts when it comes to race in this country.