The boy who cried Wolfe

Jonathan Butler’s accusation of systematic oppression at Mizzou is weak


Jonathan Butler protests with fellow African American students, calling for the end of racism on campus

Eight days. Jonathan Butler did not eat for eight days. He screams of the oppression, of the
mistreatment his race faces. His existence is not recognized or respected by the presiding government. Hunger. Struggling with the growing pains of starvation, Butler’s life was in grave danger. Until the wolf is slain, Butler will not be nourished.

Jonathan Butler is a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

For eight days, Butler voluntarily did not eat. He wasn’t tortured, nor was he unrecognized by the University. And the “wolf,” the one solely responsible for Butler’s oppression, is former University of Missouri System president Tim Wolfe. Wolfe resigned from presidency approximately 10:30 Monday morning; thereafter, Butler’s hunger strike ended.

Wolfe is accused by Butler and members of student organization Concerned Students 1950 for his lack of involvement and care for increasing racial tensions on campus.

“In a post- Ferguson world, there was so much struggle on campus but administration refused to step in on our behalf and do the things they needed to do to make sure black students, brown students, and all marginalized students are feeling safe and included on the campus,” Butler said.

What struggles have these students faced since the Ferguson outbreak? Since Ferguson, have black students become targets? Have black students fallen victim to heinous crimes on the campus of Mizzou? Is the safety of minorities truly at risk?

As of right now, the Concerned Students 1950 have not claimed violent acts occurring on campus nor reports of discrimination from faculty staff. However, it is racial slurs that leave black students feeling isolated and oppressed.

Peyton Head, a prominent student leader, reports that a group of drunk males in the back of a pickup truck excessively screamed the N-word at him.

“I really just want to know why my simple existence is such a threat to society,” Head said.

However, can Head really base the views of society upon the ignorant slurs of a few drunks? Is Wolfe or the university responsible for Head’s offense?

The use of any derogatory word is disgusting. It doesn’t matter a person’s age, a person’s race, or a person’s gender, words can cut deep. All members of the human race can fall victims to hateful words. As a young woman, I’ve heard my fair share of insults. I’ve been referred to by just about every name. Am I oppressed? Am I left feeling worthless in the eyes of society? No, I’m not. I’ve learned I can’t let the harsh words of a few dictate my self worth.

Butler and the Concerned Students 1950 are blaming racial slurs as the root of systematic oppression at the University. According to these students, Wolfe is responsible for their feelings of isolation, and unimportance.

Butler’s hunger strike was the only way for people to see the racism rooted at Mizzou.

“I already feel like campus is an unlivable space, so it’s worth sacrificing something of this grave amount because I’m already not wanted here. I’m already not treated like I’m human,” Butler said.

These are the words of a sheltered man. These are the words of a man who has never been denied access to a drinking fountain. These are the words of a man who has never experienced the horrors of concentration camps. These are the words of a man who has never been threatened with violence for eating at a restaurant. For Butler to compare his struggles to those of his ancestors, or to others, is inappropriate and insulting.

The incessant attacks these students have upon Wolfe resemble that of rebellious teenagers.
No matter what Wolfe says or does, these students will find fault. Butler’s hunger strike was for only one reason. He wanted Wolfe to resign. Is Wolfe’s resignation going to make these students feel less isolated? Is Wolfe’s resignation going to prevent racial slurs from being heard? The only person who is truly experiencing hostility is Wolfe. Concerned Students of 1950 believe in the importance of effectively dialoguing the racial tensions at Mizzou. However; these students grew hostile and aggressive when Wolfe gave the “wrong answer” for systematic oppression. This video can be found from @Qiana_Jade’s timeline on twitter from November 7th.

The hostility these students have towards Wolfe doesn’t showcase the “effective dialogue” needed for changing racial relations. These students demand to be heard, and respected, yet why can’t they extend the same courtesy to Tim Wolfe?

The entire school has been turned against Wolfe. And for what? For the life of Jonathan Butler, who was dying before the eyes of all students? For if Wolfe didn’t resign, blood would be on his hands? Unbelievable. Butler chose to participate in the hunger strike. His deteriorating health was through his own doing.

The resignation of Tim Wolfe will not satisfy Concerned Students of 1950. It will not be enough to implement these students demands. These students will continue to cry racism, long after Wolfe is gone.