They Gon Be Alright!
Message to the Mizzou Football Team and #ConcernedStudent1950
Trill or Not Trill?

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Protests on the campus of the University of Missouri were imminent. University president, Tom Wolfe has been criticized for his handling of racist issues taking place on campus.UPDATE: It has been announced that President Tom Wolfe has resigned amidst student protest. Students weren’t having it and they responded to his inaction and apathetic attitude with fierceness. Graduate student Johnathan Butler launched a hunger strike to start the awareness. Protests came next, followed by perhaps the loudest new voice to join the movement. A group of players from their Division 1, power conference football team decided to stand alongside Butler and all those fighting for answers. Initially, it i was easy to be concerned for the students, but I think THEY GON BE ALRIGHT! and this is why…

Support from their Fellow Students
This is your time to stand on the right side of history. One day, ten years from now, this will be a topic of conversation. You will want to make sure your legacy is

(Sarah Bell/Missourian via AP)

(Sarah Bell/Missourian via AP)

cemented and assure that change happened on your watch. A large group of students are taking heed to this ideal and have galvanized. Using the #ConcernedStudent1950, they’ve protested and made the noise. So, not only is the football team getting supported but so is Butler and the entire student body seeking justice.

Support from College Administrators
This is always a tough role. As an advisor or in this case as coaches you want what’s best for the student. You also don’t want your students to jeopardize scholarships, grants, opportunities or positions. Part of you might also not want to take the blame for your young activists when the bosses come asking questions. A go to answer for me, is to always support the student. My recommendation is to guide them correctly. Make sure they know every possible repercussion. Make sure they cover the right bases. Make sure they understand the steps they’re taking . Make sure they’re respectful as they remain staunch and stern. Lastly, make sure you support them. At a previous institution an RA decided to go on strike until he was appropriately paid. He told us he wouldn’t go on call until these demands were met. I wasn’t totally in favor of he handled the decision but I was never going to stop him. The internal battle that many higher education professionals deal with, is that they were once the young people who excited administrators while sometimes aggravating them. Then you grow up and think, wow, that was me. I believe college is one of the best times to raise your voice to the highest of volume levels. I can only hope that coaches and staff aren’t pressuring these athletes to play or reconsider their decision. One good sign is seeing how some academic offices as a well as the athletic department are supporting the players and the cause at large. Don’t be afraid to stand with movement.

Support from the Football Fans
You might be initially upset. Maybe you’re thinking, well, the Tigers aren’t in any position to win the conference this year, so, oh well. Then, you should think about how much money you and your buddies have spent on those fly black football jerseys. After that, factor in average prices of concessions. Then think about the all the money that comes in from TV contracts, advertising and conference bonuses. All going to the university. Maybe if the players aren’t practicing, they’ll have times for real jobs to make up for all the money they don’t and can’t make because the NCAA won’t allow them to. I know you want tailgating and Saturday game days but recognize a game with much higher stakes is currently being played

payton

Photo Cred: Curtis Taylor Jr

Support from the Student Body President
If you were Student Body President, Payton Head, then this should be a no brainier. During his time as president and before he’s experienced multiple cases of racism at the University of Missouri. In a true sign of leadership, he stood tall, flipped that hate, became involved and was eventually elected as president. His role is to consider all the students needs but in this case paying attention to the injustice on campus trumps many things. He recently tweeted out his support not only from his personal Twitter account but his Mizzou President account as well. He is down for the cause.

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Circa 2004. Me out there protesting with my fellow classmates at St. John’s University

Support from this Black Man
I wasn’t going to add this perspective but this moment leaves me beaming with pride. As a former student activist, who battled college administrators, I recognize how taxing this situation is. To be honest, this is also a scary time. You’re not sure what they’ll take away from you or if you’ll have the support of your friends and peers. I was a Resident Assistant and Orientation Leader amongst other things when my peers and I were going toe to toe with the office of the President of the University. All I kept thinking, was if they fire me, I won’t be able to pay for school. Many of us shared this risk, but we stood tall. The changes were eventually made and the black students on campus were listened to in a way the university had never seen before. As a black man, as a college administrator, as a professor, as a fan of football and as a citizen of the world, I want those students, Jonathan Butler and members of #ConcernedStudent1950 to know that they’ve got my support. Always remember, We Gon Be Alright!

 

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Stay trill, folks.
MrJeffDess

MrJeffDess is a writer, professor, public speaker and emcee of Haitian descent. He is an author of 4 books of poetry, including his latest, Deconstructing Ratchet. With over ten years of performing and student affairs experience under his belt MrJeffDess continues to strive towards helping students reach their highest potential. For booking information, contact MrJeffDess at mrjeffdess@gmail.com