I’ll never forget the feeling of that November morning. November 11th to be precise. On that morning I woke up with a feeling of uneasiness. This was the morning after a series of multiple anonymous threats had been directed towards minority Mizzou students in response to the campus protests of race relations on campus. I, along with a large majority the student body reluctantly stayed home that day, as several professors opted to cancel their lectures due to the unsafe campus climate. My parents called me that morning, frantically asking if I was safe or needed to come home. I could hear the genuine discomfort and concern in their voices, and nothing I said could calm them down. I turned on the TV only to see the endless media coverage on the #ConcernedStudent1950 protests and the resignation of Tim Wolfe. I never imagined I would see my university, the place I call home, featured on national news outlets due to rampant racial tension on campus in 2015.
Coming to Columbia, Missouri from Arlington, Texas, I truly did not know what to expect as an incoming freshman. During my freshman year orientation, the faculty and staff emphasized this concept of “One Mizzou”, depicting the student body as one large united family of diverse members. This is what initially attracted me to this university. A yearning to be a part of this cohesive “family”, and a member of this community focused on inclusion. From my first day on campus, I sensed the obvious racial divisions on campus. It is impossible to deny the racial tension within the campus, which isn’t frequently addressed. I have heard several anecdotes from my peers, and experienced myself, the result of poor race relations on this campus. And make no mistake, these race issues are not unique to my campus, but can be observed on nearly any US campus today.
I fully understand the harsh realities of being black on campus, especially within the STEM field. I am all too familiar with the reality of being one of the few minority students in my upper level science courses. I am also very accustomed to feeling the need to prove myself, and my competence among my peers and instructors. Despite these realities faced by minority students on campus, I refuse to let myself be defined by the false conceptions of others. Through my classes at the university, I have met several great educators that have taught me to strive for excellence and rise above the status quo.
In lieu of recent events, I still and will always be a proud Mizzou tiger. Concerned students at this university united together to ignite change on campus and to discuss the difficult topic of race relations on campus. The topic of race is no easy subject, but it needed to be addressed, especially here at the University of Missouri. The events that transpired at my university not only brought about change on campus, but also sparked the discussion of race at other universities across the nation. This is an important conversation that needs to occur at universities across the nation. Racial inclusion and campus cohesion is key in order to ensure the success of students on any campus.