On Monday evening, Twitter user @AllisaNova_ called for a “virtual demonstration” and asked black students to share their experiences of discrimination, prejudice, microagressions and racism at MU. “All Tigers welcome — current and Alum,” MU undergraduate AJ Foster tweeted.

Since then, thousands have used the hashtag #BlackAtMizzou; so many that it began trending nationally. Although each tweet is one person’s story, themes have emerged, notably lack of diversity among MU students and faculty, accounts of subtle and direct racism and feeling unsafe on campus.

The most liked tweet, with more than 2,300 likes as of Wednesday afternoon, is from @JJNotJayJay and recalls the protests of fall 2015, “when there was a shooting threat made targeting black students on campus and my professor thought an exam was more important than my safety.”

It shows a pair of messages in which the student says he fears for his safety coming to campus on a day when an exam is scheduled and asks to take it at a different time. The teacher responds by saying that the exam will go on as planned and that “if you give into bullies, they win.”

Many shared stories of being the only black person in the classroom, resulting in them feeling they were always called on to discuss racism and diversity.

Other students said their white teachers had ignored racist comments and incorrectly described the black experience.

Black women shared instances of white women asking to touch their hair. Some said they were told they were “pretty for a black girl” and one of the “less intimidating black faces.”

Many tweets implied or directly said white people should not say “the n word,” no matter the circumstance, including in jokes or songs.

Users who brought up concerns about attending MU this fall were met with encouragement to come and be part of the change.

A few faculty members used the hashtag to show their support for the demonstration, urge others to read #BlackAtMizzou and call for MU to do better.

In response to the virtual demonstration, Bill Stackman, MU’s vice provost for student affairs, tweeted he was reading every tweet with the hashtag.

“Other campus leaders and I are listening to and learning from these students’ experiences,” he said. “We want to help the healing process and make a better future for our Tigers. #BlackLivesMatter.”

On Thursday evening, UM System President and MU interim Chancellor Mun Choi sent an email to students, faculty, staff and alumni in response to the tweets.

  • General Assignment reporter, summer 2020 Studying magazine journalism Reach me at tacdg6@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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