By BRITTANY CHANDANI
Over the past few weeks, the longstanding built-up pressure for racial equality and justice at the University of Missouri came to an explosive point. Through protests, hunger strikes, and a boycott by the football team, students are unifying to end the hurtful racial slurs at their educational home. Their president and chancellor resigned. Students from campuses across the country are teaming up with them, posting messages with the hashtag: #ConcernedStudent1950.
The Washington Post sent Tim Tai, a photographer, on campus to photograph the students’ safe space event. However, Tai was sent away by the students and not allowed on site. The Post’s article about this offense to Tai’s journalistic right provides the story of a journalist who was unjustly shunned from Mizzou’s campus because of the past, where journalists have earned a reputation of unfairly covering racial issues.
This is completely understandable, as black students have been pushed to such a brink that they had to create a safe space and anyone who feels like an intruder probably should not be there. Also, some past coverage of race issues, such as that of Ferguson, were shown to have bias against blacks and the pain that they feel. Even though the media has a bad reputation for covering race and having a lack of empathy for black issues, the only way for there to be change is to give journalists a chance to make it right.
Denying Tai access is yet another setback in the issue of the First Amendment and free speech on campuses. The First Amendment is there for a reason, and is undeniably important. Students need to respect the law that allows Tai to cover this issue, and change their focus from punishing those who are uneducated in racial equality to one that will give these ignorant people the knowledge to realize how backwards their actions are is and how hurtful it can be.
While racial slurs and inequality of any kind should not be continued, anywhere, there has to be another way to tackle this. There will always be people who lack the knowledge to understand how detrimental racism is to society, but there will also always be people who have the knowledge to understand that racism is wrong and hurtful. Perhaps if there were more unbiased coverage of black issues and a greater understanding altogether of the well established pain that blacks feel, this issue with Tai would not have occurred.