Missourian to pursue how race matters

Friday, January 23, 2009 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:07 a.m. CST, Friday, January 23, 2009

Dear Reader:

Tuesday morning, my 5-year-old cousin showed up at my mother’s house to create his own inauguration party.


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He was wearing a black suit and waving an American flag. He anxiously asked his grandmother: “Is my hair too long to look like Obama?”

Blond, blue-eyed and Scandinavian-white, the young man was ready to parade through the house as a presidential look-a-like.

He doesn’t have a template of actions and reactions based on skin color. Yet. Most of us do. The 44th presidential administration has opened an opportunity to understand each other a bit more.

This year, the Missourian will make a concerted effort to tell stories about the ways race matters in mid-Missouri.

A half-dozen reporters have been assigned just to this topic. Right now, they are spending more time listening than writing. This week, they have done at least five interviews each with community members. Next week, they’ll begin regularly inviting people into their beat meetings. In the near future, they’ll create forums.

I want the agenda for these stories to come from you. Emily Younker is leading the team. I encourage you to contact her at

These reporters will also look to the nation.

Controversy began on Day One, when the Rev. Joseph Lowery gave the inaugural benediction. ran a transcript of the speech, which ended with an attempt at levity through a bit of rhyme about the races.

There was laughter on the National Mall. Not so much in the comments below the transcript. Many people saw the rhyme as divisive, and even racist.

We shouldn’t — and the Missourian won’t — shy away from controversy because often out of controversy comes useful dialogue.

I just managed to avoid two pedestrians and a left-turning nee careening car on Tuesday in that three-block gauntlet known as College Avenue.

Welcome back, students. Your return has made driving more adventurous.

The same can be said for newspapering. More than 300 students affiliated with the Missourian are figuring out new jobs as reporters, copy editors, designers, graphics editors, photojournalists, videographers and wire editors.

You might find a few more missteps in the stories you read online or in print. Patience, please; they’ll get there.



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Greg Collins January 24, 2009 | 10:01 a.m.

I reject the notion that there is inherent blatant racism in America today. What there does seem to be more than enough of is ongoing group pity parties (oh woe is us, help us) and elitists whose singular goal in life is to remind us of our never ending (supposed) collective guilt.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro January 24, 2009 | 11:03 a.m.

[we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around...
.. when yellow will be mellow...
... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.]
I don't see this as divisive or racist. It was said by a delusional, psychotic man who refused to acknowledge what has ben accomplished by all people. It reeks of some kind of resentment when, in reality, we do put MLK's words in action. In America, people are judged by their character.
Dr. King said: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I think our nation is there.
This flaky portion of Rev. Lowry's ryhme is an insult to those of us who advocated for civil rights, since the '60's, and is an insult to the "Yankees" who fought and died for racial freedom during America's "Civil" war.
In-your-face arrogance, which distorts reality, is an old-age ploy of "rabble- rousers," discontents and, in this case, the style of aome black ministers, reminiscent of Obama's Rev. Wright.
Honesty and integrity goes much further than hype and distortion.
MLK would have been proud to see Obama taking the Presidential oath.
Hearing Rev. Lowry would have confused the heck out of him.

(Report Comment)
Barry White January 27, 2009 | 9:27 a.m.

I'm glad that the Missourian makes New Years resolutions. Unlike my fat neighbor, I hope the staff sticks to it. Way to make an effort to no longer focus solely on upper-middle class white families.

(Report Comment)

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