The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Let’s talk.

Joshua Housing
Demonstrators gather on the westside steps of the Old Capital Museum for a photo on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Demonstrators gathered in an effort to show support and solidarity for students of color at the University of Missouri. Timothy M. Wolfe recently resigned as the President of Mizzou amid criticism and protests over the administrations handling of what were viewed as discriminatory incidents. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

Mario Williams
[email protected]

To my fellow African-American students here at the University of Iowa, we need to talk.

I’m aware that many of you are in the Black Student Union, and many other similar organizations on campus. I’m also aware that being a minority here, you tend to express your feelings toward how that experience may be. You often protest and show concern for a number of events surrounding our campus and other institutions.

Most recently, you showed your concern and stood in solidarity for the students at the University of Missouri. You didn’t lack character in showing support for those students that cloudy Wednesday afternoon on the Pentacrest, but you lacked in it when you judged me for walking by.

I received many looks of disapproval while walking past the event, and a few students angrily expressed their feelings toward me about not being involved in the demonstration. During this confrontation, a few of you were also upset I am not a part of the Black Student Union and the many different organizations here on campus.

This hasn’t been the first time I have felt uncomfortable and judged for not being a part of what you do. I always get asked, “What do you do on campus?” or “Why are you never with us?” and “Why do you always hang with white people?”

I’m heavily involved on campus, and I have friends outside of my race. For me, it’s been a satisfying experience.

And just because I didn’t stand in all blacks in support of the Tigers, doesn’t mean I don’t support them. I have family members and friends who attend Mizzou; they felt my support from miles away.

Obviously, the unfortunate circumstances that Mizzou is dealing with right now are serious. I’m sorry those students have to live amid the racial tensions on their campus. What they’re experiencing is something that everyone should be aware of, because it can occur at any other predominately white institution. But, what I won’t do is isolate myself from other racial backgrounds because of actions in Missouri, or past events our country has dealt with.

I refuse to believe every non-African American here hates me because of my race since it’s happening in Missouri, or wherever else. For me, the best way to influence race relations is to get out there. To learn about people. To educate others on what it means to be a black man on the UI campus.

I’m allowed to have my own opinions and demonstrate support in my own way. But you students shouldn’t berate me because I didn’t do it in the way you would have liked.

Don’t judge me because the way I want to change things isn’t similar to yours.

I always get the feeling that you all pride yourself on being together, in groups, in huddles, and distance yourself from the amazing, diverse opportunities here on campus. If diversity is something you want out of the university, strive for that, implement the change. Step outside of your groups. Make friends with other races.

Being in an exclusive group and having animosity towards other races isn’t the way to succeed in fostering change. You have reasons to feel anger, but transform that animosity into a drive for change.

I may have different opinions than most of you, and perhaps my experiences have been different. I don’t have to be a part of the Black Student Union to protest and show love and support for others. I don’t have to be a part of that to express how I feel being a minority at Iowa. I’m fine and have had stellar experiences because I’m not timid of trying new things.

My mother always taught me to be diverse, be cautious, be aware, show love, and don’t judge. I take all of that into consideration in my daily life, and I’d like to pass that wisdom your way.

Thanks for the talk.

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