Taking a stand is not an easy thing to do.
When people take a stand on an issue near and dear to their heart, risks are taken. Some risk losing their livelihoods. Others put their reputations on the line. Some people who do not agree with the stand taken make threats to the protesters AND their families.
This is why I commend the young brothers (and their white teammates and coaching staff) for taking a stand against Tim Wolfe, the now-former president of the University of Missouri.
Before I continue, I am aware that there are some people out there who will NOT agree with what I have to say. Hell, many people may look at the tagline of my rant, roll their eyes and not even bother reading what I have to say.
That’s the beauty of taking a stand – I can’t worry about what people think of me when I know in my heart I am doing the right thing.
At any rate, let me give you all a bit of background on this university. Missouri admitted its first black student in 1950. It has an enrollment of 35,000 students, seven percent being of African-American descent. And 60 out of the 124 players on the football team are black.
I encourage those of you who do not know what happened at Missouri to use our good friend Google and read about what’s been happening at the school. I could give you all links, but I would be doing the work for you. We are living in the “Information Age”, and we all have no excuse for not keeping abreast of news of this magnitude.
In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of what has taken place there:
- In October, a white man interrupted a Legion of Black Collegians rehearsal for a homecoming play. When the black students tried to get him to leave, the students said he responded, “These niggers are getting aggressive with me.”
- Graduate student Jonathan Butler launched a hunger strike on Nov. 2 that he said would continue until Wolfe resigned. Butler began his protest several days after a swastika was drawn with feces in a new residence hall.
- Black students confronted Wolfe during a homecoming parade. As the students spoke about incidents of racism at the university. The driver of Wolfe’s car attempted to drive around them, clipping two students in the process.
- A group called “Concerned Student 1950” gave a list of demands that would improve the conditions of black students – and other students of color – on campus.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is only the tip of the iceberg. I shudder to think how uncomfortable the atmosphere has been for Missouri’s black students.
Seeing those students, football players and coaching staff taking a stand not only inspires me to be more vocal on issues affect me and my community, it also invokes memories from my own college experience and my inability to take a stand of my own.
Most people know that I attended North Carolina State University for college (‘Go Pack!’), but several people did not know that I actually transferred there from ANOTHER school.
I went to a religious liberal arts college called Ambassador University, which is located in Big Sandy, Texas. It had an enrollment of around 1,100 students.
The school was affiliated with a church my family attended when I started 6th grade called the Worldwide Church of God (which is worthy of another rant in and of itself), therefore calling itself “God’s college”. Unfortunately, there were things that happened there that let me know that Ambassador was not as “Godly” as it portrayed itself to be.
I’ll just give you a few highlights.
During my freshman year there, I learned that for those who wanted to date interracially had to obtain notes from their parents and submit them to administration before doing so. You read that right. The shocking thing was this happened in 1991, not 19-61. Needless to say, not only did my parents NOT write such a note, they thought it was stupid to begin with.
Whenever the black students (which made up less than five percent of the student population) wanted to get together and have parties and get-togethers, we had to obtain permission from administration. Other ethnic groups’ get-togethers, namely the international students, were encouraged and promoted by administration.
Black History Month events were particularly awkward, mainly because many of the white students did not come from areas where they mingled with people of other ethnicities, let alone black people. One particular event left many of the white students (and many faculty and administrators) seething after a West Indian friend of mine gave an account of how he never “felt he was black” until he came from his native Jamaica to America. There were crumpled up programs from that event, and administrator changed the way future Black History Month assemblies were conducted going forward.
Those events, coupled with some that happened to me PERSONALLY from others (some of whom I thought were cool with me), left me in fits of outrage. It also left a lot of my black and Hispanic – as well as some white – college buddies outraged. While we wanted to protest, we decided against it because we did not want to risk isolation from the student body and expulsion from the school.
To this day, I have been upset at myself for not taking a stand against what happened at Ambassador. I sometimes have flashbacks of what happened there and leave those flashbacks with anger and regret.
Hell, I would have transferred from the school MUCH earlier if the damn place was accredited before my senior year.
It took me several years to forgive my parents for sending me there, even after they learned of the crap that was happening out there. Aside from the small group of my closest college friends and friendly acquaintances, I chose to dissociate with anything having to do with Ambassador. I have not – and will not – attend any of their college reunions.
And as far as I am concerned, my undergraduate college experience began when I stepped onto N.C. State’s campus (again, ‘Go Pack!’), rendering Ambassador as a forgotten memory.
From observing friends taking parts in activism on issues such as police brutality, racial profiling and the Confederate flag fiasco on Facebook, I have learned over time about the importance of activism and taking a stand for the greater good. It is time for to join the fight against atrocities brought against people inside and outside of my community.
Fortunately for the black students at Missouri (and their supporters), their activism and courage has been rewarded. Hopefully people at other colleges and universities will choose to follow.