MU jolted by LBC discrimination

MSA president Payton Head said the MU Police Department had dismissed his case, since his attackers’ actions were “preserved under freedom of speech.”
MU students band together for a sit-in protest Oct. 6, 2015, at the lobby in Jesse Hall. Students came to the peaceful protest to show solidarity with the LBC community after recent events involving racism on campus.

Traditions Plaza filled with students and members of the Columbia community Oct. 6 for the performance of “The Mis-Educated,” a play created by the Legion of Black Collegiates and performed by members of the organization’s Homecoming royalty court.

The play explored themes of embracing Black history, discrimination in policing and the struggle of being black in a university. The play recreated ’90s sitcoms known for addressing these issues. During familiar theme songs from shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the crowd danced and sang along while sipping on hot chocolate.

The tone shifted, however, when Missouri NAACP President Naomi Collier and LBC Activities Co-Chairman Darius Thurston, stepped on stage during intermission.

“The LBC exemplifies black excellence, which is exactly what we did the other night,” Collier said in response to how the organization handled an incident while rehearsing for the play Monday morning.

The rehearsal was disrupted around 1 a.m. when a white man on a cell phone, presumably drunk, approached the group and wouldn’t leave when asked. He reportedly “stumbled off the stage,” saying “these niggers are getting aggressive with me” to the person on the phone, according to a letter posted on Twitter by Missouri NAACP President Naomi Collier.

“On behalf of the Legion, we feel that this incident is completely heinous and unacceptable,” Collier wrote. “Not only did this individual disrupt our rehearsal, but we were also made victims of blatant racism in a space that we should be made to feel safe.”

LBC President Warren Davis also released a statement on LBC’s Twitter Monday afternoon starting with “Dear Mizzou, Get it together,” in which he expressed his disappointment in campus culture.

“In a place where inclusivity and diversity are said to be paramount, it is evident that this university is not practicing what it has preached,” Warren wrote. “The problem however, not only lies with our INCOMPETENT and DISCONNECTED administration, but with our student body as well.”

As news spread of the incident, organizations and administrators spoke out using #StandWithLBC. Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, who has been criticized for his reaction to similar instances, sent out a statement and video.

“It’s happened again,” he said, calling it an example of hatred and racism, the strongest language he’s used thus far in reference to racial slurs being directed at students.

This is the latest example of racism at MU. In September, Missouri Students Association President Payton Head detailed his experiences with racism on campus in a now-viral facebook post. He said later in an interview that the MU Police Department had dismissed his case, since his attackers’ actions were “preserved under freedom of speech.”

Head said the fact that he is the MSA president shouldn’t matter.

“It’s not even about me anymore,” he said. “It’s taking care of your students. What you can do for me is take care of everybody else. I’ll be fine. Yes, it’s traumatic. Yes, it’s sad. But I think the biggest stressor on me is that students are going through this every single day.”

For the past month, Head said, he hasn’t slept. He and his cabinet are over their weekly office hours working to find a solution. Head takes multivitamins every day to stay healthy and leans on his cabinet, his fraternity brothers, other student body presidents and psychologists throughout the U.S.

“It’s this notion of breathe, fight, repeat,” he said. “No person can do this by themselves. We need the student body to mobilize. We need the students to realize that this is an issue. Because if I’m the only one, when I leave office, who else is going to do it?”

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