Okay, okay. It was sorta about racial incidents on campus (debrief here) but it was actually about, in my never-humble opinion, much, much more. Here, in no particular order, are the things that I think are notable about the events at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
1) Being a victim of hate is apparently something we can scrutinize. Yes. The graduate student (an educational policy major, if I understand correctly) at Mizzou who started (and really did something significant) the call for action at Mizzou went on a long hunger strike. A person of color he was concerned with all incidents of hate on campus. What was the reaction from some? He is the son of a rich railroad executive so apparently he can't actually know from suffering or want things to be better. Sad, really.
2) There were several incidents (reported and document) of hate at Mizzou many of which were white students verbally (and otherwise) harassing and abusing the minority (7%-ish) student population of the University that is black. Racial slurs from backs of trucks, threats from fraternity houses, etc. You know . . . stuff that we can accept from young people studying at a well-regarded university (that's sarcasm).
3) Social media is powerful. We know much of what we do about the happenings at Mizzou because of Twitter but platforms like Yik Yak (which allows you to be anonymous in every way on it - for whatever reason this might be a potentially good and useful idea) were also part of the problem as threats of shooting black students after the resignation of school leadership.
4) Sports, man. Let's be very clear - every smaller protest and call for attention at Mizzou combined netted about 1% of the attention that a brave (and I use that term respectfully - they had scholarships and their futures, in some cases, on the line) group of football players got for refusing to practice and play under the then-current Mizzou leadership and their coach (dealing with cancer) got for supporting them. If not for the $1MM in known financial loss for the school NOT fielding a team - I don't know if this would have been resolved this way.
5) This is not a "Mizzou" thing . . . since the incidents at Mizzou there have been dozens of colleges and universities around the country where students are calling for equality and fair treatment and respect on campus. Not all are as popular or powerful in scope or demand but the discussion is real and spreading.
6) Hate is alive and "well" . . . so much so that a human being (we'll be kind) is willing to pick up a piece of their own feces and scrawl a swastika on the wall of a bathroom. In America. In 2015. Imagine how absurd you would have to be to do THAT.
7) This generation is different. I talk a lot of crap about millennials (which are apparently no-longer even our youngest adults) but here's what's splendid about them. They have had enough and they are willing to do something about it. Take the Mizzou hunger strikes, or the larger protests there and around the country and weigh it with acceptance of homosexuals (something that should be a given vs. celebrated) and the dipping of incidents of bullying, and the inclusion of those with disabilities, and the statistics around diversity and acceptance in general and you have something truly special coming in to maturity.
8) Privilege is hard. Professors and media and students arguing about access and rights and roles and responsibilities is a time-honored tradition in confusion and futility. Can we just accept, in 2015, that none of us have any rights nor do we have any lack of rights? We're just a smudged up world of fighting and pushing and pulling.
9) This will never end. We'll always have a "Mizzou" (or the problems there) to confront or ignore. Maybe there is a point or value in it but I sorta doubt it, much to my chagrin.