My alma mater has been all over the news, and for once it’s not because of underage drinking, parties, campus rape or football.
OK, actually it is about that last one. But not because they’re doing so poorly this season or because quarterback Matty Mauk mysteriously disappeared off the team (which he did).
After a rash of racist crimes — including the press’ favorite one to mention, a swastika painted in feces — were ignored by University President Tim Wolfe, students took a stand. Jonathan Butler, dubbed Concerned Student 1950, went on hunger strike, calling for Wolfe’s resignation.
You probably didn’t even know this was going on. Don’t feel bad. It didn’t make the news until Saturday, when the black football players declared they were going on strike, too. Then head coach Gary Pinkel posted a photo of the entire football organization on Twitter, connoting that he and the rest of his players supported the effort in what Huffington Post called a “watershed moment for sports activism.”
That’s when the movement made national news.
Yesterday Wolfe resigned and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin — whose biggest claim to fame was the number of selfies he took with students at sporting events — announced he would leave at the end of the year.
Just goes to show, as Larry Wilmore said on The Nightly Show, “if Black lives don’t matter, black linebackers do.” If the football strike had continued on to Saturday’s game against Brigham Young University, it would have cost the school a $1 million cancellation fee. “For a school that’s colors are black and gold, black doesn’t seem to matter as much as gold,” Wilmore concluded.
But that’s not what I’m going to write about tonight because far too many journalists, comedians and commentators have said it better. Instead, let me turn to something more immediate: how the media seems to have abandoned the story just as it’s beginning.
Racism doesn’t resign with an unresponsive university president, as seen by what’s going on as I type this blog post. This great achievement for racial equality faces violent retaliation from the same people who got away with it before the whole story began. Threats have been made on campus. Black students are scared for their lives because of KKK sightings and racist rallies. Classes are still on for tomorrow (as of 10:43 p.m. CT tonight), but professors are starting to email students that they don’t have to come if they feel unsafe doing so. But as the media basks in the glory of being able to end their reports with a refrain of “Ding, dong, the Wolfe is gone,” it’s ignoring the real story — the real evidence that the issue still exists and isn’t going away anytime soon.
Where’s the news media now? Why do I have to rely on screenshots of threats made on social media site YikYak instead of from news outlets? Why aren’t they doing their jobs and at least mentioning that the brave people inspiring change now have reason to fear for their lives?
Must be waiting for the football team to get involved.
Update: Can’t ignore this tweet from Matt Pearce:
A final additional thought: You were my home for four years, and I couldn’t be prouder to call myself a True Daughter after the amazing things my future fellow alumni have accomplished. Stay safe, Mizzou.