What Mizzou professor Melissa Click being fired really means
February 26, 2016 at 12:30 am
In case you missed the news, it was announced Thursday afternoon that Melissa Click, communications professor at the University of Missouri, was fired Wednesday night. As an alumna of the university I’m disappointed that someone had to lose their job so publicly, but I’m not surprised by the decision.
The first day I stepped on campus I felt as if I had to constantly defend my right to exist. My white peers would ask me how I could manage to afford out-of-state tuition, and when I couldn’t make a professor’s office hours I’d be met with statements such as, “Oh I didn’t realize you were an athlete!”
I was not an athlete.
When I first moved out of the dorms, I’d walk home to my apartment near campus and frat boys would scream at me and tell me to me to go back where I came from — which I’m sure they didn’t realize was Indiana. And it wasn’t unusual for them to top off their shrewd remarks with the n-word. But I’m not special, plenty of my black peers and other peers of color have similar stories. But in the fall of 2014, when Mike Brown was murdered, I saw the black community at Mizzou unite. And it was amazing.
As more racist events took place on campus and around the country, I watched black Mizzou get tighter and tighter.
Last semester, as tensions rose I watched my television screen and social media channels as my former peers fought to have their voices heard. They’d had enough and I agreed with them. Suddenly, faculty, staff and other allies within the campus community began standing in solidarity with black students at Mizzou. And together, they made something amazing happen.
After an eight-day hunger strike from graduate student Jonathan Butler, the boycott of black athletes on the Mizzou football team and a series of protests, Tim Wolfe, the UM System President, resigned.
Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived when Click was caught on camera calling for “muscle” to remove a student from Carnahan Quad. The quad was the space Concerned Student 1950 had been camping out on for more than a week.
Immediately all the focus was on Click. People called for her resignation, she received death threats and 99 individuals in the Missouri House of Representatives called for her removal from the university. What was supposed to be about black lives and the systemic oppression on campus quickly became a story about a faculty member who to some went too far, and to others was standing up for what she believed in.
I don’t want to take away from this difficult time I can only assume Click and her family are going through, but I can’t help but be upset at the message her being fired sends.
Black lives don’t matter. Not at Mizzou.
Black voices can scream and shout as loud as they want on Mizzou’s campus and they will be heard, but only to a certain extent. When money is involved, that is always what wins.
I’m not here to debate about whether what Click did was wrong or not. It was in my eyes. But that doesn’t mean the conversation for the last four months should have been solely about her.
What about black students who now have one less voice fighting for them? What message does this send to them? Why is free speech only important when it reflects how the majority feels?
Click had every right to voice how she felt and so do the black students at the university. That is what the first amendment protects. There is no way those attempting to silence those voices are actually interested in first amendment rights.
The firing of Click is a slap in the face to students who have fought so hard. While it doesn’t erase their hard work, it does invalidate it. It is out of love that we fight to make the university a better place, not hate. This is not a game, it’s not a joke. The Mizzou community is not protesting because it’s cute or because it’s convenient for the majority — it’s a wake-up call. We’ve already seen what happens when black voices are silenced on campus, I would hate to see my alma mater go through it again.
So wake up.
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