This isn’t a story with obvious local implications but I have to comment on the determination and character of the University of Missouri African-American student activists and their supporters, who forced the resignation of a college president and the start of a real dialogue on racism.
Although the students had been complaining about a racist campus environment for years, it finally took the courageous stand of the Mizzou black football players, supported by their coach and white teammates, to grab the attention of the university administration — and the media.
The stand of the football players was singular and unique for these times — they essentially threatened a strike until the university president stepped down — but the activism of the students was not. When the media finally latched on to this story, it also “discovered” numerous similar struggles occurring at colleges and universities across the country, including such elite institutions as Princeton, Yale and Ithaca College. These movements existed in plain sight yet somehow flew under the radar of a media that never tires of feeding us Trump, terrorism, sensationalism, and more Trump.
Racism is usually only covered when cops kill an unarmed black person. Then the narrative narrows to revolve around the “dispute” over just how much force is legitimately needed to control the black menace. But the Mizzou students — and student activists elsewhere — energized by the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang up in the wake of Ferguson, know that the issue of racism is more complex than that. They wanted to have an intelligent dialogue but eventually decided that it would take something out of the ordinary — in this case, the football team refusing to play — to have their issues taken seriously.
I wonder what is flying under the media radar in our area? What struggles are being waged and ignored by the don’t-worry-(except about black crime and terrorism)-be-happy broadcast media and our stodgy, conservative newspapers?
About that budget
Meanwhile, Governor Wolf and the Republicans controlling the Assembly still can’t agree on a bad budget. Now they’re arguing over just how regressive a tax policy the state can endure, and how to distribute the projected increased revenue among school districts and homeowners. Fortunately, they’ll agree to State Store reform, providing relief to the hardworking low-income drinker after nine o’clock.
The consequences of the stalemate are serious, however, as I’ve been saying. To list the closed or partially shutdown agencies would be depressing — you can Google them for yourself. Many school districts, social service providers and counties hadn’t fully recovered from the austerity of 2009. If or when they ever see state funding again, they’ll find themselves deeply indebted to banks, so far the only winners of this fiasco. Aren’t you glad to be in Pennsylvania, America?
— Jim Collins