While making people aware of the ever-increasing inhumane and discriminatory acts carried out towards African Americans ought to be enough to make everyone believe black lives truly matter, we’ve long known if we really want to be treated fairly we have to hit our oppressor where it hurts most: their wallet.
That’s exactly what 32 black football team players at the University of Missouri are attempting to do by choosing to boycott all football related activities until the school’s president, Tim Wolfe, is removed from office due to his poor handling of racial incidents on campus.
ESPN detailed the extensive list of failings on the part of Wolfe that led to this moment:
Racial tension has been brewing on Missouri’s campus in Columbia since September, when Payton Head, the Missouri Students Association president and an African-American, said he was racially abused while walking. Students protested when it took nearly a week for the university chancellor to address the incident.
Then in October, a student yelled the N-word at members of the Legion of Black Collegians in a campus plaza while they were rehearsing for a play. Later that month, someone smeared feces in the shape of a swastika on a bathroom wall in a new residence hall.
The university downplayed the incident, and more criticism toward administrators ensued, with Wolfe enduring the most.
The football team’s boycott comes on the heels of Mizzou grad student Jonathan Butler’s decision to go on a hunger strike last Monday as a result of these issues, and is just one aspect of the campus-wide effort to remove Wolfe, led by student activist group Concerned Student 1950, named in honor of the year Missouri first admitted black students. The statement from the football team, which has the full support of their head coach Gary Pinkel, read:
“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘Injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet read. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”
Thus far, Wolfe has chosen not to resign, instead expecting students to hold out for improvement months down the line as “part of a system-wide diversity and inclusion strategy due to be announced in April,” ESPN reported. In a statement Sunday, he said:
“It is clear to all of us that change is needed, and we appreciate the thoughtfulness and passion which have gone into the sharing of concerns. Clearly, we are open to listening to all sides and are confident that we can come together to improve the student experience on our campuses. We want to find the best way to get everyone around the table and create the safe space for a meaningful conversation that promotes change.”
If the football team keeps up their boycott and the school loses out on just a fraction of the millions of dollars college athletics brings the university, we bet that timeline will move up rather swiftly. According to USA Today, “Football contributed more than $35.6 million to the school’s revenue in 2013-14.” Keep up the good work boys, your demands will be met sooner rather than later.