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#ConcernedAlum My Black Mizzou Experience

Like many others over the past few days, I have been fully immersed in what’s been going on at the University of Missouri (Mizzou). What’s different is, I am not looking at it through the lens of an opinionated media consumer. I am seeing my alma mater being scrutinized by the comments section on news outlets, I am following people on my TL who are enduring the negativity on MU’s campus currently, and I am constantly going back and forth on social media with people who JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND. #guilty

I do believe from the outside looking in, many people have the assumption that current Mizzou  students and alumni carry a great disdain for our university and that we had an awful experience. I can’t speak for everybody, but for me and many of my classmates that I keep in touch with, that is definitely NOT the case. I loved my time at Mizzou. I had so many pivotal moments in undergrad and it is all a part of my story. (1) I found out I was carrying my daughter while at Mizzou (2) I got saved at Mizzou (3) I was president of the student-parent organization at Mizzou (4) I met the man I’m dating now at Mizzou (5) My first full-time job as a College Adviser was referred to me from an adviser while at Mizzou (6) I got to experience the first black man become President of the U.S at Mizzou……..so many memories. With that said, all was not flowers and roses. Although I never experienced overt racism on campus personally, I’ve witnessed it on several occasions and many people I am close to have shared so many disheartening stories of racist & discriminatory instances.

I vividly remember the time my friend was walking home with her daughter from the Black Culture Center (another fellow student-parent on MU’s campus) after an evening of studying, and a pick-up truck with a confederate flag sticker on the back full of white boys shouting, “Yeah nigger, you and your nigger baby keep walking!” She just stood there in fear not knowing if these boys would stop and do something to her and her child. With tears in her eyes, she told me she never felt so weak in her life because she didn’t know how she would protect her child if something were to happen to her. She filed a complaint but on a campus with 30,000+ students and thousands of white boys who drive pick-up trucks with confederate flags (because there are several), I mean really, what could’ve been done? Does this story sound familiar? That’s because it is. Payton Head, MSA President, shared a very similar story. Apparently, yelling nigger from pick-up trucks is all too common on this campus.

And the time my co-worker, El, who got accused of coming late to class every day and received a 70% for the course (he was on time every single day and just happened to be the only black person in the course…)

or

my co-worker Alice who is assumed to be on campus by affirmative action or scholarship because she couldn’t possibly be there by merit…

or

my former classmate Kamaria who found a picture of Obama with a monkey taped over his face on her dorm wall shortly after the 2008 Presidential election….

or

the cotton balls being scattered all across the BCC, Black History Month being addressed as “Nigger Month,” the fact that we have our own homecoming because our participation was never wanted in the University’s homecoming…

and don’t get me started on the microaggressions that I’m sure extends way past Mizzou:

being the only black student in class, being the token student to address all matters of Black History Month, slavery, and MLK, never having a black professor (3 months into graduate school at the age of 25 and I NOW have my first black professor), being put in groups and getting assigned the simple task because other white peers assume I can’t handle the task, black history course being an elective, but all other history courses are required. Unfortunately, the list is endless.

For the individuals at Mizzou who showed genuine love and concern for me during my time there:

Vicki (white woman)- academic adviser who never judged me when I told her (as a freshman) I was pregnant but still needed help scheduling my courses. Continued working with me when I left Mizzou to make sure I was still on task and had all my stuff together for when I came back in 2012

Susan (white woman)- offered me my only campus job (through an email sent on accident) and always worked with my schedule. Never hesitating to learn more about me and my family and ALWAYS showed genuine love and concern for Addy and I.

Carol (white woman)- internship director who provided a space for me to do work while my child was there which is one of the main reasons I was able to graduate. Continues to invite me to current events and to come speak on behalf of the organization. My daughter and I are still used for promo for their awesome organization

Dr. Porter (white man)- this dude is awesome sauce. He’s the one who gave me my diploma on December 15, 2012. A day I will never forget…

Please understand, if we hated this place, we wouldn’t be so passionate about change. We wouldn’t be exerting this much energy into it. We would have just left. Period. We love Mizzou. The fact is, we should be able to attend  a University (regardless of being the minority) and it should be ok to want to be treated with respect, receive the same quality education as our peers that we are PAYING for, choose a PWI rather than an HBCU and not be scrutinized for that, choose to walk in solidarity with our classmates as a student-athlete and not have to worry about our scholarships getting revoked, walk around campus without being called a nigger in 2015, feel free to express our rights when we feel as though they have been violated and not fear for my safety on my own campus…….

You called us thugs and hoodlums when a select few rioted and burned businesses of Ferguson (very VERY select few), but when we remain civilized and use strategy and peaceful protest, WE ARE STILL HATED!!!! Damned if we do. Damned if we don’t.

Why is our self-love so intimidating?

With prayers of peace and reconciliation, I still stand with pride of my alma mater.

#MIZ #ZOU

#ConcernedAlum

2012-10-31 21.21.18

5 Comments

  • Christine

    November 11, 2015 at 7:48 PM

    But according to first person accounts, it wasn’t peaceful. It was in-your-face yelling and intimidation. And making everyone stay off the quad because it was being occupied even though that is a public space. If the goal was to terrify non-black students, faculty and visitors, mission accomplished. It will be a long time before I go on campus!

    By the way, I remember walking to school and having to stop at the edge of school property to take off the pants I wore under my dress because girls weren’t allowed to wear pants on school grounds even in the winter. I recall a friends mom getting a credit card in her own name because the Equal Rights Amendment said she didn’t need her husbands approval any more. And going to job interviews where they asked how many kids I had – no jobs for women with more than 2 kids. One of my grade school teachers was fired because she was pregnant. My mom (who was a computer operator) once wore balloons under her shirt for a job interview because the hiring supervisor liked big boobs. There was a time when classified ads were sorted by Men Wanted and Women Wanted. So I know a thing or two about discrimination. As a person of Polish descent at a time when being Polish meant you were stupid and dirty, I was a victim of racism too. So I do understand that things need to change.

    If the students had formed a protest, I would have been more supportive. But they weren’t students. What I saw were professional activists coming into town and making demands. I don’t know what they really want. Their demands were met but now they want to come up with additional demands? If the STUDENTS have additional grievance’s, now is the time to sit down with Administrators to talk. The professional activists don’t care about Mizzou or Columbia, it seems like they just care about conflict. I hope we don’t end up like Ferguson with stores closed and buildings burned. I work in COMO and like the town. Is there racism? Yep, I’m here to tell you there’s racism everywhere in the world. But we are hardly backwoods rednecks looking for someone to spit on. Columbia is a nice place to live & work regardless of your skin color or country of origin.

    I have heard that students are worried that getting a degree from a “racist” college won’t get them jobs. I sure hope that won’t happen.

    Reply
  • Patricia Miller

    November 12, 2015 at 11:48 AM

    Not welcome at Homecoming??? The Mizzou student body just elected a gay, black Homecoming King, who is also the newly elected MSA President. Of course, that wasn’t enough love for him, so he threw Mizzou under the bus with racist accusations just because some redneck in a truck (probably not a student) called him a racial slur. Of yes, and he also terrorized the study body by announcing “The KKK is here!” Today’s African American students are aggressively hypersensitive and can’t wait to yell “racist”, if anything doesn’t go their way. Everyone at Mizzou wants the best for the university and its students, but these tactics are creating more problems than they are solving.

    Reply

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