Mizzou race relations committee releases anti-racism videos

The University of Missouri’s Race Relations Committee has released a video series to educate white people about racism.

According to the Maneater, Mizzou’s student newspaper, the University’s Faculty Council Committee on Race Relations has released videos with members discussing what they have learned about diversity and racial issues.

Craig Roberts, a committee member and plant sciences professor, says that while the videos will be directed at white faculty, the message should be applied to the white community as a whole.

Roberts also stated that because white people don’t suffer from “constant, subtle racism due to their skin color,” they have a hard time “detecting racism.”

Additionally, Roberts alleges that white professors “have a poor understanding of racism,” and tend to view racism in the terms of lynching and other physically violent acts.

The committee of twelve, which consists of nine faculty, one staff member, and two students have been meeting since May of 2015 to discuss issues of race relations on the Mizzou campus. Among these twelve is Jonathan Butler, the student who brought national media attention to Mizzou when he began a hunger strike in an effort to get former UM System President Tim Wolfe to resign.

The purpose of the committee, as stated on its website, is to be a force for ongoing change. To that end, the committee aims to help make Mizzou a “safe and welcome place for everyone” as well as “make Mizzou a local, regional, national, and global leader in race relations in terms of teaching, service, research and economic development.”

There are five videos pertaining to race relations on the website. In one, Roberts is laments the fact that of Mizzou’s approximately two thousand full-time faculty members, 1,500 are white. He declares that the problem is not just a series of racial incidents, but rather that this is “a way of life problem” for faculty.

Committee member and undergraduate journalism student Corie Wilkins also says in the video, “We want to make sure the faculty are aware of and understand different incidents of racism, and their own potential bias or lack thereof.”

Wilkins adds the committee just wants the faculty to be able to understand and deal with other people.

In another video about the racial landscape, Stephanie Hernandez, the coordinator of the Multicultural Center, says MU’s racial landscape is “very tense.”

Craig Roberts, in this second video, says that this is not about a series of isolated incidents.

“We’re not looking at one hundred dots. We’re connecting the dots, and when you connect the dots, you see a picture, and it’s a picture of disrespect. It’s a picture of disregard for students of color,” he says.

Wilkins adds that he believes “the campus is very intolerant, especially when we talk about issues of race.”

He says that he has felt more racism in his three years on campus than his eighteen years of growing up in Chicago, and that his alleged incidents of racial discrimination speak to the campus’s, the city of Columbia’s, and overall the nation’s racial climate.

Mike Middleton, the man who replaced Tim Wolfe as the UM System President, alleges that the climate at Mizzou is not unlike what he experienced back in the 1960’s, where “white supremacy that has permeated our culture” elicits a visceral reaction which “they call black rage.”

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