Undoubtedly many people have heard what happened at the University of Missouri. Whether it’s the photographs of colleges students around the United States voicing their support for the African-American student body and the abundance of the “Concerned Student 1950” hashtag. The University of Missouri, or Mizzou, is showing just how powerful black activism can be. Or is it?
While Mizzou has recently been in the spotlight for demanding the resignation of their president, Tim Wolfe, racism at the institution is nothing new. An article written by Matt Ferner and Nick Wing of the Huffington Post highlighted just a few of the highly offensive, and sometimes violent threats uttered openly and privately by White students at the University. These offenses include racial slurs towards students and professors; swastika symbols smeared on a dorm bathroom in human feces; and terrorist threats via the social media app, Yik Yak.
Even after President Tim Wolfe announced on Nov. 9 that he would be resigning, the threats made on Nov. 10 by a white male named Hunter Parks, illustrated that the University still has quite a ways to go in combating racism.
Despite this, many rejoiced at the progress made by the students at Mizzou, and celebrated their tenacity. In spite of all the joy that comes with such great strides, there is still a constant question lingering in my mind – would this success have been possible without the protests of student athletes?
Racism at Mizzou has long existed and students have long advocated for a change. From protests that directly confronted Tim Wolfe, to a hunger strike led by masters student, Jordan Butler.
Yet, it wasn’t until student athletes intentionally became a part of the protest that change actually occurred. Wolfe resigned from his position as president less than 48 hours after several African-American football players threatened to boycott their game against Brigham Young University; this game would have allegedly cost the university $1 million if it was cancelled.
It’s no surprise that sports bring money into universities. According to the Triangle Business Journal NC State allocated $70 million towards an athletic budget for the 2014-2015 school year. This figure is up $10 million from the budget two years ago. There are numerous ways NC State generates the revenue for such a budget, including a fee of $232 per student.
Such a large budget indicates just how profitable athletics are to universities, with NC State being no exception.
Business came to a near halt when approximately 30 black men decided to boycott a football game. One football game forced a president of a university to resign. Even after students blocked Tim Wolfe’s car, it wasn’t until these athletes became an active part of the struggle was he forced to resign. If it appears that I’m saying the same thing three different ways, then you’re correct.
Yes, it is incredible that this small group of men were able illustrate the power of civil disobedience. But does anyone else think that it was slap in the face to the numerous students who had been protesting for months, if not years?
Yes, these men should be applauded for using their privilege for the greater good but we must acknowledge that it is privilege nonetheless, privilege that most African-Americans do not possess.
I came across a column on Twitter that celebrated the power of the black male athlete and it is extremely problematic. The events at Mizzou seem to imply that blacks are only important to a university because of their athletic abilities and as a result are only as valuable as the revenue that they bring to schools.This is nothing more than an incredibly backhanded compliment.
The events at Mizzou are eerily reminiscent of Kanye West’s “All Falls Down” when he states, “Cause they make us hate our-self and love they wealth.That’s why shortys hollering ‘where the ballas at?’ Drug dealer buy Jordans, crackhead buy crack. And a white man get paid off of all of that.”
I know plenty of incredibly talented black students at NC State who don’t play a sport. These students should be regarded with the same care and concern as any student on this campus – black or white, athlete or not.
Stephanie Tate | Correspondent
Ever since I made the decision to come to NC State, I’ve feared that this day would come. While many of my friends packed their suitcases and headed over to North Carolina A&T State University or Winston Salem State University, both historically black universities, I packed mine and drove to the school I called home.
Upon arrival I was immersed in a sea of melanin through the African American Symposium through the office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Meeting so many students of color gave me a sense of security in a place where very few people looked like me. That sense of security and that homelike feeling was shattered on the day that you slammed the door of the atrium into my body and snickered while calling me a monkey. I must admit I went through a series of stages after your actions. I went through the initial shock. Not including some disgustingly racist comments on Yik-Yak last year, and some small microaggressions like “You’re very intelligent for a black girl,” I had not personally experienced racism on campus, so of course your actions stunned me. I then went through a stage of confusion. I thought to myself “How could someone be at an institution of higher education, yet be so ignorant? How could someone attend a university that prides itself on diversity, yet still be so overtly prejudiced?” Lastly, I found myself flooded with anger. Admittedly, for fear of perpetuating the angry black woman stereotype, I kept my anger inside and instead rushed to my meeting. Who was I to be angry in the first place? Actually I’m the dedicated honors and AP student, the too many extra-curricular activities student, the service oriented student that worked their butt off to get here. You see this is what women like me have been doing for centuries, bending and shape-shifting for men like you. But this letter is my refusal to do so any longer, and my affirmation that my anger derived from being referred to as a monkey is justified. I do not want you to confuse this as a letter rooted in hatred but rather this letter is rooted in hope, newfound awareness, and appreciation.
First of all, I want to thank you for reminding me of what my being here stands for, what the mere presence of many African Americans on this campus stands for. It was only fifty-nine years ago that NCSU had its very first African American undergraduate students enroll. So let’s put this into perspective, a university that is 128 years old, just started had its first African American students enroll fifty nine years ago. Fifty nine years later, as an African American woman on this campus I have not only the privilege but the honor to walk on the same campus as those students. Like many other African American students on this campus I have a duty to uphold the values of scholarship and excellence like those who came before me. So thank you, for reminding me that I am not here just for myself.
I’m not sure if this is the Donald Trump effect of or what, but I had almost forgotten that overt racism was a thing. I had fallen into a daze and forgotten that people like you, people that harbor hate in their hearts and find comic relief in publically putting others down, exist. Your reminder was a rude but necessary awakening. A reminder that I have a duty as a human being to lift others up. To be a lighthouse of encouragement, smiles, and helpfulness in a world that can get dark.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for a reminder of the amazing resources and people that inhabit this campus. When I left our awful, but thought provoking encounter I walked straight into Witherspoon Student Center, the only building on this campus named after an African American. That same building houses the African American Cultural Center on campus. The center, equipped with a library, a gallery, and some of the warmest and inspiring faculty on campus, might be a good place for you to check out. I’m almost positive that Toni Thorpe, affectionately known as Momma Thorpe, can give you a hug that will squeeze some of those ill thoughts out of you. The books in the library will tell you of a people that were royalty, helped build and shape the world, and have since continued to illustrate brilliance. Thanks for reminding me why outlets such as the Nubian Message, Multicultural Student Affairs, and various other offices and student groups exist. The sense of community I have felt both prior to and after our encounter is the exact reason I remain an advocate for programs like Symposium, Diversity Education Week, and more.
With that being said, I hope that at this wonderfully prestigious institution you embark on a journey of discovery. I hope that you step outside of your comfort zone and get to know someone who looks like me or looks different from both you and I. I hope that your time here opens you up to new experiences and beliefs. I hope that one day you realize how powerful words can be. But until then, thank you for the reminder of where I came from, feel free to watch me as I keep going, as I continue to keep achieving, all while being unapologetically black.
No One’s Monkey
Taari Coleman | Staff Writer
On Sunday, Oct.10, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Nation of Islam leader, spoke about freedom, justice and equality.
The Million Man March is a legendary event that took place for the first time twenty years ago at the same location. Referred to as, “… one of the most historic organizing and mobilizing events in the history of Black people in the United States,” by Chicago-based Dr. Conrad Worrill. Worrill was a main organizer of the March and the current president emeritus of the National United Black Front.
On that day, October 16, 1995, the world was showed a view of Black men different from what they were accustomed to. Not the aggressive, obnoxious image often portrayed in the media, but friendly, open, and sharing with each other. Back then, Minister Farrakhan charged Black men with improving themselves, being better husbands, neighbors, and all around people.
Twenty years later, millions of men, women, and children met in Washington DC to hug, share, laugh, and foster an environment of oneness. Many well-known faces populated the crowd as well, including J. Cole and P. Diddy, who both wore hooded sweatshirts in tribute to Trayvon Martin, whose mother was also in attendance.
Yet, many were shocked to find that BET did not provide live coverage of the anniversary of such an event. Social media outlets erupted with criticisms and disgruntled users attempted to stir up boycotting the channel.
Many might be unaware that BET was bought by Viacom Inc. back in November of 2000. Viacom is a cable and broadcasting company that also owns CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon.
Keeping this in mind, one might not be surprised to find that BET did not cover the Million Man March, largely in fact because CBS news did not. In the purchasing of BET, Viacom proceeded to influence its news by expanding through CBS, its music through MTV’s global distribution. These influences end up causing BET to cater to the audiences of CBS and MTV, which may or may not be interested in a positive view of Black people in this social climate. BET did not provide a response to social media users, but did claim to send a news crew to the event. However information on the even was not posted on the website at any point in time.
Minister Farrakhan’s speech was insightful and called for unity and peace among races, reform in the care for veterans, and the freedom from oppression from women. He invoked the President to speak out against police brutality. He used the term “real.” “Real freedom, real justice, real equality.”
Rupert W. Nacoste, Ph.D.
When Pope Francis arrived in the U.S. he was warmly and respectfully greeted by President Barack Obama. Seeing Pope Francis on American soil should remind us that Americans once were afraid to have a Catholic as our President. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, had to over and over again highlight his belief in the separation of church and state.
Verbal expression of resistance to an American President being a Catholic was religious bigotry. The same goes for expressions about an American Muslim. Dr. Ben Carson was an outstanding, groundbreaking neurosurgeon; he is not outstanding as a political leader. In public, Dr. Carson firmly said no American Muslim should ever be “…allowed” to be President. Anyone running for President should know that the U.S. Constitution says that “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Ben Carson’s statement then, is not a part of our American political structure; it is religious bigotry. Yet Dr. Carson has been surprised by the objections to his statement about Muslim American citizens. He is surprised because his is a primal bigotry. It is a prejudiced belief so firmly and confidently held that the person does not understand how anyone would disagree or be repulsed by that bigotry. Bigotry can be about any group. Nowadays too many are confused about that fact. Anybody, you see, can be a bigot. Skin-color does not prevent or absolve bigotry.
That is why talking about racism at the individual-psychological level is inaccurate, misleading and confusing. Yes, there has been a long, painful history of racism in America. Yes, there continues to be pockets and remnants of racism in America. But racism is a system of institutional and organizational patterns of law, policy and action that support individual prejudice and bigotry. Through the Civil Rights Movement’s grass root protests and legal challenges based on our Constitution, we have successfully attacked and dismantled the systems of racism, sexism and gender-ism. If we had not, someone who tried to violate the Supreme Court’s rulings on unconstitutional (racial, gender, religious, sexual-orientation) discrimination would not end up in jail like Kim Davis did.
Talking about racism as if it occurs at the individual-psychological level is what has led some to try to absolve black people as a (once) racially oppressed people, of being able to have racial prejudice that can be expressed in verbal, nonverbal, and other behaviors (bigotry). Yet skin-color does not eliminate the possibility of bigotry coming from members of any group. When it comes to individual’s feelings about people from different groups, bigotry can come from anyone; there are no innocent.
Social psychologists, like me, have analyzed intergroup tensions this way since the 1954 publication of Gordon Allport’s classic book, “The Nature of Prejudice”; prejudice is not bigotry; bigotry is not racism. Back then discussions of bigotry focused mostly on race-relations, but now the issues of intergroup tension are multi-dimensional. In today’s age of neo-diversity, there are so many American groups that individuals can feel prejudice towards; homosexuals, Muslims, transgendered persons, Christians, women, persons with visible bodily-conditions, military veterans, persons with mental-health conditions, interracial-couples, and on and on. Neo-diversity gives all us individuals lots of targets for expressions of anti-group feelings (prejudice) that can be expressed in behavior (bigotry). Especially in that neo-diversity context, anyone can be a bigot. Any college-educated person who believes that skin-color prevents bigotry has been miseducated. Ben Carson is just one example of an apparently upstanding person, who happens to be black, being a religious-bigot.
Dr. Rupert Nacoste is Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Professor of Psychology and author of “Taking on Diversity: How we can move from anxiety to respect.”
- Arts & Entertainment
- Mind Body and Soul
- Letter to the Editor