I have been trying for the last few weeks to attempt to explain my emotions, thoughts, fears and more regarding campus at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) currently. the first thing I want and need to get out is that currently is an awful word choice. Racism, sexism, homophobia... all forms of diversity issues have been on our campus for longer than the past few weeks. Women weren't allowed at Mizzou until 1871, African-American students were only allowed here after 1950 after Lloyd L. Gaines fought for his right in the Supreme Court. Recently as LGTBQ rights have become more front and center in our society, they also have here. Diversity at Mizzou is a fight that occurs every day and I'm proud to attend a school willing to fight for it.
With all that setting the stage, I also want to start with the fact that I'm okay if you have different views regarding what's going on here, student or not, alumni or not, privileged or not. But, all I ask is that we approach both sides in a peaceful and respectful way. Emotions are high and intense and I'm going to do my best to present this in a way that will help all, rather than just point fingers, but I myself to choose to stand united with Concerned Student 1950. As much as campus may be at ends with one another, we're also at the best place to make the choice for change on how people are represented, respected and welcome on this campus.
Mizzou is not new to making headlines regarding diversity issues on our campus. Two years ago, while I was still a freshman, Michael Sam, an amazing defensive end for our team, came out as the first openly gay football player in college and heading into the draft for the NFL. Our campus turned into a major support system, forming a line of students along the main street south of our campus, blocking Westboro Baptist Church protesters and turning out backs to them showing them that we stood with Michael Sam and that their presence didn't matter to us then and it never would. We also have an amazing Greek life, the second largest in the country and is accepting of all races, sexualities, genders and is constantly growing. This organization does amazing things on this campus for philanthropy and more. We also have multiple resources through our Student Association including a Multicultural Center, a Women's Center, a Health and Wellness Center and the list goes on.
A reality on our campus though is that even though large organizations are working to make campus an inclusive place for all, it won't always happen. There will always be people in the world who thing differently, view things differently and will voice their opinion even if they may bring terror to others in the process, including fellow students. The United States is known worldwide as the melting pot, we're supposedly this incredibly diverse and exceptional place with so many view points and cultures, but it's not always true. The reality of our country is that we are still 77.4% white, with only 13.2% African-American. At Mizzou we are similar with 77% white, 7% African-American, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian, 7% International and 0% Native American or other. We may think that our campus isn't as diverse as the country we live in, but in reality it is fairly representative of the United States as a whole. However, Missouri actually has a larger white population compared to the United States with 83.5% white people.
When I first came here, I wasn't culture shocked by our campus. I went to an incredibly diverse high school, with so many different cultures and sexualities and genders that Mizzou wasn't different for me. But, that's not the case for some students, it is a reality that some students have never met or been around a large community that wasn't predominantly or completely white. Even though that's the case for some, terrorism and terrorizing students that don't look or act like them is not fair, but we also have to understand where they have come from and educated them in a way that makes sense.
I have been blown away by the large amount of support that this campus has experience from all around the world and even in our own city, but there are also those who don't support what is going on here. I often wonder why, and I won't always be able to find out. Obviously, there are students who wished that their professors had stayed in class and taught them for the education they are paying for during the walkouts and protests, and I can understand that but, I don't understand why most students would be so excited about a Snow Day, but not their professors working so hard to make their campus a more inclusive place for all. I still have things to learn about some of my fellow students and I'm never going to claim that I fully understand every person's point of view, but I'm going to be honest and say that for awhile I didn't believe that our campus was plagues with racism the way it is. But I am coming to understand it, I'm learning to listen to my fellow classmates and know that what they are experiencing is real.
Diversity will always be something we have to strive for. I saw something the other day that really spoke to me. We as a society around the world cheers different breeds and colors and forms of animals within their own species, but when it comes to our own species we favor a singular one rather than glorifying all the differences that make our world so beautiful. As a Christian, we are called to love all people who walk around us, those who don't believe and those who do. Race, ethnicity, and gender were never mentioned in regards to showing love. We're called to love all equally, we're called not to judge because it is not our place to do so. Acts 10:34 says, "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality." God does not love one person more than another, he does not see our sin as greater than another, he loves us all equally, he gave his only Son so that we would be relieved of our sins.
This is what I hope our country and our world can learn is that we should glorify our diversity and know that our Lord makes us all in his image. If we all truly can believe that, then God would represent all races, all genders, all sexualities. Because God doesn't make mistakes. He makes beautiful, strong people. He makes people willing to fight for what they believe in and even those stuck in their ways. God loves every single one of us, we just need to learn to love each other in the same unrelentless way.
So this is my prayer for my campus right now, for our city and for our state, for our country and for OUR world. This world is plagued with terrorism and hate and frustration and anger. We saw it with the Paris terrorism attacks that occurred just yesterday, and we see it on the campus where students don't feel safe walking to their classes. So, I just ask for peace, and for love and for support. I ask for the ability to hold our tongues filled with hate and learn to love over frustration. Amen.
If you have any questions or concerns, if you want scripture or if you want someone to support you or something you do, please reach out to me. I want to be a resource to those around me and those far away.
With much love and support,