Mizzou Pres., Chancellor Resign — What Now?
As questions remain regarding the future of the University of Missouri, a look at what brought the university to this point.
A powerful movement of protests and walkouts by students and faculty at the University of Missouri — and a boycott by the school's revenue-generating Division I football team — in response to inaction by the administration surrounding increased racial tensions on campus accomplished its mission to topple the university's ineffective leadership.
Now that both President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin (who will be entering a new role at the university on Jan. 1, "advancing research," he told reporters) have resigned, protestors are not giving up. Concerned Student 1950, the student group of activists behind the protests (named as such because the university first began admitting Black students in 1950), issued new demands following Wolfe's resignation.
"Moving forward, Concerned Student 1950 demands an immediate meeting with the UM System Faculty Council, Board of Curators and the governor of the state of Missouri to discuss shared governance and create a system of holistic inclusion for all constituents," said Marshall Allen, one of Concerned Student 1950's original members.
Student activists have been working hard to effect change. They have made their voices heard with not only protests and walkouts but also with the use of social media. Payton Head, the president of the university's student government, wrote a lengthy Facebook post in September, detailing his personal experiences with racism — including having racial slurs yelled at him on campus — as well as details of incidents of homophobia and racism experienced by his friends. This type of action connects what was initially considered a localized problem to similar incidents all across the nation, such as the racist cartoon that covered the SUNY Plattsburgh student newspaper, a "white girls only" party thrown by a Yale fraternity and a mockery of African culture by Princeton University's swim and diving teams.
The football team even used the power of money to demand change. Black members of the team refused to participate in any football-related activities until Wolfe's resignation; white teammates joined the boycott, too. The players planned not to take part in the team's upcoming weekend game — a decision that would have cost the university an estimated $1 million as the school would continue to lose advertising from one of its biggest moneymakers. Incidentally, Wolfe's resignation did not come until after the team declared its boycott.
While in his resignation Monday Wolfe said he took "full responsibility for this frustration and … inaction," his departure is merely the first step in a long battle ahead. "This is just a beginning in dismantling systems of oppression in higher education, specifically the UM system," Allen explained.
How Did We Get Here?
According to Wolfe, "It is my belief we stopped listening to each other."
However, "stopped listening" implies that there ever was a time Wolfe did listen. And given the university's history of racist incidents, Wolfe had many opportunities to listen. He took his position of president in 2012 and, despite the university's clear history of racial tensions, Wolfe did little to address the issues.
The problems began before Wolfe was even in the picture. In 2010, two students littered cotton balls outside the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on campus. And despite a statement in 2010 by then-Chancellor Brady Deaton that the school "remain[s] committed to promoting and reinforcing diversity at MU," there had been no substantial efforts to that effect until last month, when another racial incident in October prompted just-resigned Chancellor Loftin to order students and faculty to participate in diversity training in 2016.
But despite the seemingly deep concerns of the two former chancellors regarding the 2010 incident, the commitment appears to have fallen through the cracks. In 2010, 82.1 percent of the university's undergraduate students were white, while just 7.2 percent were Black, according to the university's website. In 2014, the numbers hardly changed, falling to 79 percent white students and moving to 8 percent for Black students — a less than 1 percentage point increase.
Faculty demographics do not fare much better. In 2010, 78.7 percent of full-time faculty members were white, with just 2.61 percent being Black. In 2014, the number of whites went to 75 percent, while Blacks represented 3 percent — an increase of less than half of a percentage point.
And racially charged incidents continued. The inaction following Head's Facebook post prompted protests from students. At a rally last month, one frustrated student said, "We are one bad decision away from a killing on this campus because it is segregated."
But even statements like that were not enough to create a dialogue. Concerned Student 1950 then created a list of demands for the university, which included increasing the number of Black staff and faculty members to 10 percent as well as the creation of a long-term plan to retain a more diverse student population.
After the demands were drafted, a swastika made of feces appeared on a dormitory bathroom, and protests continued. Only after this incident did Wolfe agree to meet with Concerned Student 1950, where Wolfe allegedly did not agree to any of the changes the group proposed.
On Nov. 8, the football team announced its participation in the boycott. The following day, Wolfe resigned.
According to the university, one of its next courses of action is to hire its first chief diversity, inclusion, and equity officer. While this sounds like a good initiative, it emphasizes the fact that the university didn't have someone in charge of diversity prior to these recent events.
And as seen in other incidents of racism on college campuses, simply having the position is not always enough. At the University of Louisville, President James Ramsey hosted a very offensive costume party, where he and his staff members dressed in stereotypical Mexican attire, wearing sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches. The university has a person who serves as Director of the Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives, yet such an incident still occurred.
The university has also said it will now offer diversity training to new students, as well as faculty and staff members. However, only time will tell how effective the training is, since the university has a proven history of not following through with its alleged diversity initiatives.
Mike Espy, a Black man, in a runoff election against Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith said her comment has "no place in our political discourse, in Mississippi, or our country."
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) will face Democratic candidate Mike Espy, a Black man, in a runoff election. In a video clip, which went viral on Sunday, she jokes about attending "a public hanging" — a method of domestic terrorism that killed hundreds of Black people in the state.
Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.
Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.
The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.
The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.
"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.
Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.
The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:
"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."
When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."
"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."
In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.
Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."
Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.
"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.
Cohen said Trump commented in 2016: "Black people are too stupid to vote for me."
Major corporations are pulling support over King's divisive rhetoric about race, ethnicity and immigrants.
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa's campaign is losing support from companies. In the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, consumers and employees are pushing back against companies donating to King as they are fed up with his years of racist comments and association with white nationalists, even retweeting a Nazi sympathizer.
Trump continues to pander to his base before midterm elections.
President Trump said that he plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship to children born in the United States to non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it's an attempt to "fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred" before next week's midterm elections.
Robert Paul Rundo leads the "overtly racist, violent right-wing fight club" based in California.
Robert Paul Rundo, the 28-year-old leader of the violent Rise Above Movement (RAM), who fled the U.S. earlier this month for Mexico and then Central America, is now in federal custody. Rundo and his group beat counter-protesters to a pulp at a "Make America Great Again" rally.
A video clip Gillum posted on Twitter of Wednesday's debate has gone viral.
A video clip that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum posted on Twitter has gone viral with more than 3 million views. In just 40 seconds of Wednesday night's debate, Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, explains why racists believe Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is a racist.
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A satirical phone line with a real message for racist white people calling the police on Black people for no reason.
Comedienne Niecy Nash teamed up with the New York Times to create a real 800 number for white people who are afraid of Black people to call, instead of calling the police.
It's an answer to all the nonsense calls that have put Blacks in danger of contact with authorities (who notoriously have a dangerous relationship), and a wake-up call to white people that are racist, and apparently don't know it.
911 dispatchers not wanting to pass along the calls made by white people may want to give out this number to save racists embarrassment, jobs, death threats, and save time and emergency resources for those who really need it— like EMS for Blacks being shot by police, perhaps?
Wait for it.... yup. It's a REAL number 🙌🏽 911 is for EMERGENCIES not your concerns, unprecedented fears or privilege. Black & brown people are being killed by law enforcement at alarming… https://t.co/76vZehXbpG
— Niecy Nash (@NiecyNash) October 23, 2018
It provides options in English and Spanish and encourages white people who are uncomfortable with Spanish to protect their ears and push no. 1.
In the commercial for the number, Nash says it's "a radical new product that will save you all the headaches from being filmed and outed as a racist douche."
She continues explaining, "Our experienced staff have been living while Black their entire lives ... It's a real number, for real white people who should mind their own damn business."
New! A Hotline for Racists | NYT Opinion www.youtube.com
Many on social media responded in applause:
When your friend is beautiful and brilliant and black and smart and funny as hell and looks damn good in a retro purple blazer while throwing satirical shade at Josh, Chad and Becky, your friend is @NiecyNash. pic.twitter.com/Qtq171Bjvv
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 23, 2018
Travis, there's help for you. Call 1-844-WYT-FEAR.
— 🌜LunaDeLaCasa🌛 (@creolepepper) October 23, 2018
Why not have a black guest on the show to explain! 🙄 #1844wytfear #Diversity answers questions you may have of others! ✊🏾❣️
— TealoveDaLadz (@tealovely69) October 23, 2018
As #WhileBlack incidents continue to increase in the spotlight, others have offered solutions for the problem of white fear.
Several months ago a New York Senator, Jesse Hamilton, who represents the Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn, proposed a hate crime law after a Trump supporter called the police on him while he was campaigning.
This 800 number is sure to be called by many people of color and their allies who seek a good laugh, but the point remains —calling 911 for no good reason is a problem that is more dangerous than it is ridiculous.