We Have More Power Than We Think
Like many African-Americans I have found myself saying we as a people do not have any power.
We usually say that in the context of racism meaning African-Americans cannot be racist because we lack the requisite power to make that much of a difference in someone else’s life.
However, the students, faculty and student-athletes at the University of Missouri crushed that notion completely in a positive way.
The protestors at Mizzou showed us (all non-bigoted people regardless of ethnicity) that we do have power and that power is not Black Power or White Power, but Green Power.
Racists have probably never respected the desire for equality and freedom from African-Americans. But as I often told my former students at Texas Southern University, very few people are racist enough to go broke standing up for bigotry.
Affecting the bottom line is why the Mizzou protest worked and why university President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin stepped down from their prestigious positions within the university system.
According to the New York Times, “Months of student and faculty protest over racial tensions and other issues that all but paralyzed the University of Missouri campus culminated Monday in an extraordinary coup for the demonstrators, as the president of the state university system resigned and the chancellor of the flagship campus said he would step down to a less prominent role at the end of the year.
“The threat of a boycott by the Missouri football team dealt the highest profile blow to President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, but anger at the administration had been growing since August, when the university said it would stop paying for health insurance for graduate teaching assistants.”
While members of the football team and Coach Gary Pinkel got the most of attention, the movement started long before the high profile football program got involved.
However, the threat of losing money is always what tips the balance for boycotts like the Mizzou protest.
Losing millions of dollars is the only thing that started the ball rolling, not the fact that Mizzou administrators finally found religion.
But if hurting people in the pocketbooks are enough to stop the hurt of racism and oppression, then that is what this generation should continue to do much like our elders did generations earlier.
Although other African-Americans had refused to give up their bus seat in Montgomery, Ala. prior to Rosa Parks, it was her position in the community and the NAACP that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The powers that be in Montgomery, Ala. did not have a change of heart when they saw all of the grandmothers and grandfathers walking to work.
They did not have a change of heart when countless African-Americans lost their jobs for providing rides for those without cars.
They had a change of heart when the bus system almost went bankrupt because the vast majority of their riders were African-Americans.
Concert promoters did not care if African-American fans had to watch African-American musical talent from the balcony of theaters while White customers got to enjoy the show up close and personal.
They did not have a change of hurt because artists like Sam Cooke (“A Change is Gonna Come”) or The Impressions (“People Get Ready”) made musical anthems about the struggle for equality.
They had a change of heart when such superstars like Ray Charles and Quincy Jones refused to play to segregated audiences costing concert promoters and concert venues thousands of dollars.
We as a people have to find inspiration from not only our elders but our next generation too.
The Bible verse Isaiah 11:6 states that “a little child shall lead them.”
While some of the athletes and students leading the Mizzou protest are legally young adults and children, their actions show more maturity and guts than people twice their age.
We often complain about the negative portrayal of African-Americans in the media. We can change those images by hurting companies in the pocketbooks.
We often complain about the lack of morality in the media and the immoral images on our television screens. We can make a difference by hurting those companies in the pocketbooks.
The Mizzou protest showed us that as long as we are worth money, we are worth being treated like everyone else.
And if others cannot see it, then they can see a decrease in their bank account.