#Mizzou and The Liberal Limit
Mizzou football scored their greatest victory ever on Monday, effectively sacking the school’s president.Boo, lemme stop you right there.
Tim Wolfe resigned as head of the University of Missouri (and took the Chancellor with him) following criticism of how he responded—or didn’t—to racist attacks on students over the past few months.
“The frustration and anger that I see is clear, real, and I don’t doubt it for a second,” Wolfe said. “Please, please, use this resignation to heal, not to hate, and let’s move on together for a brighter tomorrow.”
Mizzou’s black players had announced a strike the day before—joining scores of student activists led by a hunger striker who refused to eat until Wolfe left. In a parting shot to the protesters he defied as recently as Sunday, Wolfe said he shouldn't have been ousted like this.
“This is not, I repeat, not, how change should come about,” Wolfe said, adding that change comes from listening to others. “I take full responsibility for the inaction, and I take full responsibility for the frustration that has occurred.” (Source)
Do any of y'all remember Levi Pettit? Remember how the president of that school handled its racist fraternity problem? Did y'all notice that he still has his job???
Funny thing about white privilege: it does have an expiration date, and it is finite to begin with. Like many white folks in America today, Tim Wolfe got into his head that as a white male university president, his power and privilege had no bounds, and he could ignore the "frustration" which plagued black students on his campus. Their safety was not his responsibility. Their well-being was irrelevant. They were there to serve a purpose, and their worth pretty much ended there. To quote one student, "If we aren’t scoring touchdowns, the university does not care about us."
Let it be noted that Wolfe was ousted through non-violent protest. The students who protested were united, they stood strong, and they let their school know that the days of simply ignoring abuse against black students were over. Last I checked, that's exactly how change is meant to come about. So I want to give mad props to the students and faculty who protested together; to see such discipline, solidarity, and conviction makes me relax a little about the future Millennial Generation.
And I want to pop pink champagne for Mizzou English instructor Bradley Harrison Smith. When another professor refused to cancel classes despite the safety concerns of black students (again, ignoring the problem...and like Wolfe, he resigned), Smith issued the following statement:
I’m writing to tell you that I’m canceling class tomorrow (Wednesday 11/11/15). The truth is, despite all of the threats on social media, I would still probably feel safe on campus were we to have class. But that’s because I am a white man. I would not feel safe at all were this not the case. By holding class at our regular time, I would be forcing my students who do and probably should feel threatened to implicitly disobey me in order to protect their lives by not attending my class. Which means that, were I to tell you something like: ‘We are going to still have class, but stay home if you don’t feel safe…’ (which is what I originally planned to say) I think I would be participating in the marginalization of minority students by tacitly supporting an educational environment in which certain students feel safe while others cannot. Attending class tomorrow, in light of the recent threats, would be a privilege not available to all my students, and I have therefore decided that it will not be a privilege for any of my students.I believe that's a bona fide mic drop, Bar Patrons.
Now...it's no coincidence that right before I was about to blog, I came across about this Facebook post by Marlon James. You know I've talked about the Clock? Well, there's also the issue of what I used to call the Threshold, or the limit to which some white folks are willing to be progressive:
And while we’re at it, let’s talk about another thing that has been pissing me the fuck off recently. Lately, in the pages of liberal bastions like Atlantic, Slate, and New Republic, there has been this movement gaining steam largely because nobody wants to give it a name. So let me name this mofo: The Liberal Limit. You know it— in fact it’s been the view of many liberals and leftists, but particularly old white liberal men (yeah I said it), that progressiveness has gone too far, so far that even their privilege now feels attacked.Mm-hm....
They’re tired of learning new gender pronouns. Tired of hiding that nigger joke book. Tired of having to figure out how to respond to a Rihanna video. Tired of feminists of colour pointing out fissures in whatever wave of feminism we got right now. Tired of black kids on campus whining all the time. Tired of everybody being so angry because without their alliance all you coloured folk would be doomed. Liberal but up to the point where it scrapes on privilege.
But here’s the news. You’re a progressive. You’re supposed to progress. You’re supposed to be more liberal today than you were yesterday. Yes, we’re supposed to passionately debate (not tear down) even the stance of our allies, even those who agree with us 60% of the time. You’re supposed to keep changing your views on race because even the most positive view is inherently flawed and needs work. The whole point to being liberal, to being progressive is to continuously evolve, continuously question, continuously debate, even continuously knock down and build up, sometimes even ripping everything apart to start again. My views on trans people are different in 2014 that they were in 2004. And you can bet your ass it will be even better in 2024 than it is now, because that's what makes me not conservative. The point to being a progressive is to fucking progress.
This post stuck out to me at this particular time because despite all the solidarity we've witnessed with the Mizzou situation, brown folks still gotta stay vigilant. Mizzou isn't experiencing racial problems in 20-fucking-15 because the white folks in Missouri are just soooooo progressive. They're experiencing these problems because the society in which they live has happily allowed (and even encouraged) this rot to flourish. Not to mention, when white people with power (like David Boren) use said power to do the right thing, they come under fire.
So while we drink to victory today, the battle rages on tomorrow.