|ELIZABETH LOUTFI/The Maneater|
If you want more context on the story, here's a good summary.
Initially, I was somewhat against the movement because I thought the direction of the students' outrage was misplaced (what could Wolfe really do to rid Mizzou of racism?) and I also thought students may have been overreacting a bit to the situation on campus.
Instead of standing firm in my initial thoughts as many seem to do in our increasingly dualistic society, I brought the situation before God and came out seeing it from another angle.
Being black at Mizzou
I first thought about my experience living in Columbia for almost seven years.
My high school was about 40 percent black, 35 percent white, 15 percent Hispanic and a mix of others for the other 10 percent. Needless to say, when I first arrived in Columbia in 2008, I was shocked at the lack of diversity.
As the years went on at Mizzou, I began to notice that rather than being integrated into the full student body, the black student population usually hung out only amongst themselves. This was saddening because I enjoy cultural diversity, and a whole group of people being isolated did not feel right to me.
Then I started to recall stories of racism and hear new ones told and started to understand why this isolation was taking place. If a group of people doesn't feel safe in a place, they will logically start to withdraw within themselves and stand with the people they do feel safe with.
The black community decided this semester that enough was enough and started to protest. Whether or not you agree with their decision to go after Tim Wolfe is irrelevant to this discussion. They felt increasingly marginalized and decided to do something about it.
Sadly, as a result of the protest, I've seen a lot of non-black people call for black students to transfer schools if they don't like the culture at Mizzou. I've seen them say that the black students should just calm down and not make such a big deal out of a couple of isolated racial incidents. I've seen them call the protesters thugs, ignoring the fact that there hasn't been an ounce of violence in the protests. I've seen even more of them call for the football players' scholarships to be revoked in light of them joining the protest.
As far as I can tell, some of this criticism is coming from self-professing Christians as well, which is the a big head scratcher to me.
Standing for the oppressed
The biggest part of my mental shift on this issue was the decision to view the issue through a Christian lens.
Instead of finding reasons why other people's pain isn't legitimate enough to get mad about — as so many people have done on Twitter today — Christians need look to Jesus for the correct response to these people's oppression.
Throughout the entire Bible, the most constant call we have from God is to stand for the poor, oppressed and marginalized. Some of the most oppressed people in the history of civilization are the Jews, God's chosen people.
Here are some scriptures that talk about standing for the oppressed:
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor."
"O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, so that man who is of the Earth will no longer cause terror."
"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."
I could list many more, but you get the point.
Our God is a God of justice. His will is not to see people oppressed, hurt or discriminated. Shouldn't we stand behind this God of justice and see to it that the world is more unified, as was his design?
If we want to truly profess Christ as our Savior and the leader of our life, shouldn't we have more of a heart for those who are in pain? Those who feel damaged by the actions of others? Why are we so quick to dismiss other people's pain and point out ways they should be expressing it better?
Empathy is an important trait to have for any person, but it is critical for a Christian. If we believe in the Bible, we believe that sin is running rampant in this world and true pain is a real part of this sinful world. We all experience it, therefore we can all support each other in pain.
God hates our pain more than you could ever imagine hating something. He hates it so much he sent Jesus to die so we could soon live in a world with no pain again.
Why can't we have that same kind of righteous anger toward these incidents of racism and the culture of racism on Mizzou's campus? Why do we have to so quickly discount these people's feelings without knowing what these black students truly go through?
I just find myself so frustrated at the lack of empathy being shown to the protesters. I've seen people question whether Jonathan Butler really went on a hunger strike or not (like, really?). I've seen people call the demands of the protesters "racist" because they outlined specific steps that will move Mizzou toward true inclusion. I've seen an insane amount of people telling black people to "get over" being called racial slurs and just brush it off when someone in a passing car screams at them with a Confederate flag hanging out of the window. Like, really? Are we that callous that we don't see how that can be insanely hurtful? If you're a Christian thinking that, where is the work of the Holy Spirit in you in that moment?
Christians: just stop and think about this. Please. You can disagree with the way things have transpired on Mizzou's campus, but you cannot stand for the discrimination that these students continually face. You just can't do that and call yourself a follower of Jesus.
As far as the way we should react to these situations, I think Jesus summed it up best when he said this:
"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Moving forward, I challenge you all to take a deep look at why you have some of the feelings you have. Take these feelings before God and ask him to show you His will and His heart. I know it helped me and I hope it can help you as well.