MU: privileged people have opinions

The situation I was born into should not make my voice any less powerful.


by Kate Scofield, Staff Photographer

November 10, 2015. That is the date that stares back at me on my computer screen. The day I was forced to form my own opinions on the strikes and protests occurring at the University of Missouri. The day my family was attacked from behind a computer screen for, in one commenter’s words, “being privileged white people that don’t have the capacity to understand current racial events.”  

The situation I was born into should not make my voice any less powerful.

The trouble at Mizzou seems to have started with one young man, Jonathan Butler, who felt the only logical way to rid the University of a racist president was to starve himself. Yet, the trouble was brewing before this. Racial tension has been present for months- the swastika that appeared in a university bathroom was merely the tipping point. In response, a black man used his life as a gambling chip against the job of a white man.

The list of demands released by the Concerned Student 1950 group at Mizzou, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune, states that the people of color population of the faculty and staff be upped to 10%, that the President of the University, Tim Wolfe, be removed from office, write a handwritten, sincere apology to his black students and address his white male privilege along with his negligence to help students racially.

These demands along with others were the basis of a lot of controversy stemming from opinionated people. Is my mom not allowed to be one of these people because she is white? The protesters at Mizzou did not use their voice in a constructive way. They used emotions, half truths, a little bit of sensationalism and denied access to journalists and anyone who held an opposing view.

In the midst of these events, my parents have become the target of harsh words. Given the freedom of speech on the internet, I am not surprised my mother got attacked over Facebook for sharing a controversial article. However, it was not the attack itself that surprised me – it was the backlash she received for stating her own opinion. As the comment said, because my mother is a “privileged white girl, who grew up in a privileged area and went to an exclusive high school,” she would never understand hardships. Granted, she will never understand what it means to be black, but that does not mean she has no concept of struggle.

I protect my own right to speak my mind, but how dare any white person who grew up with some money open their mouth and have an opinion. Terrorizing people over the internet for being “ignorant” and “privileged” is not the way to get to the top. The first step to equality lies within equal opinions, not within your computer screen.