Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Long time coming: Thoughts on anti-racism protests at Mizzou

I watched the full video of the Concerned Student 1950 protest that took place at the homecoming parade of my alma mater. The video makes me feel a lot of things, but one of them is a sense of admiration for their commitment to advancing discussion and policies. These students took their grievances about institutionalized racism to the top and made themselves be heard by banding together (literally linking arms).

Their grievances are serious.

This morning, USA Today reported a story about threats of violence directed at black students in the wake of the protest movement that led to the resignation of the university's president.

The repercussions of these racist acts (past and present) are also serious.

While I was a student-reporter at Mizzou, I remember a discussion I had with a woman working at a mall in St. Louis. When I told her I was reporting a story for the Columbia Missourian (the J-School's community newspaper), she told me that she used to go there. She said one of the reasons she left was that she didn't want to deal with the racist culture. She recalled being a student during the vandalism incident that took place at the Black Culture Center in 2010. Two men were arrested in connection with littering the center's front lawn with cotton balls.

I know that my sister, Claire Stigliani, heard from her black students about the routine use of racial slurs around Mizzou's campus. I know that she was troubled by the incidents that were reported to her.

Today, I am moved by watching what these students have accomplished. I know that much more work has to be done.

I also wonder if that woman I met at the mall has seen this video and if she ever found a way to complete her college degree.