Just hours away from the resignation of the University of Missouri’s president that was initiated by a hunger strike, by Mizzou graduate Johnathan Butler, and a boycott from the black Mizzou football players, it is finally being shown that protest and boycotts can actually produce real change. Some would argue that the president did not decide to resign until the boycott of the football players because of the amount of revenue that would have been lost and fines that would have accrued. Some would say that it was the gain of social media attention that helped put more pressure on the school to actually do something instead of sitting around like they had before. The hashtag, #ConcernedStudent1950 was started after a few racially charged incidents took place on the Mizzou campus. Once word got out about Butler’s hunger strike, more people began to use the hashtag in their support for his cause. Regardless of how it happened, the big thing is that it did happen.
Through support and acknowledgment of the bigger picture, a change had ensued. Should it have taken such dramatics? Of course not, but sometimes you have to go to extremes for something to really happen. Once you acknowledge that what you are protesting or fighting for is a real, tangible thing then you will have no problem doing whatever it takes to have something effective happen. I have always admired those who boycott and protest because it takes a really selfless person to do such a thing. To put themselves in harms way for the betterment of a community has to be the most selfless act anyone can perform. Many times we can get discouraged when looking at the news and feel that protesting might not be working. We see the continuous killings of innocent black lives with no repercussions. We see the way that they try to pacify us with seemingly new laws that may work in our favor, but really are still used against us, i.e. body cams. This can make you feel like protesting or boycotting is not worth it. It can make you feel like what little difference will you make by making things a little more difficult in your life by boycotting something of the norm. As you can see, it is making a difference. Our generation is saying enough is enough and actually putting in the work. I salute anyone who is able to do something like this. We must continue to rally and support those in these moments because encouragement is the best way to keep the movement going. No one else is going to tell them good job, so it is our duty to do so. Protests and boycotts have been proven effective in the past and it is time that our generation continues the legacy of our ancestors. We can not get too complacent in thinking that we cannot make a change when it has been proven that we can. Many times we do not see the positive results of protests due to the lack of media attention, but know that it is happening. There are strides being made to have a more racially justice world and it starts with moments like these.
For more on the Mizzou protest, you can read here http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/jonathan-butler-how-grad-students-hunger-strike-toppled-university-president-n460161