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The content of our character

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

You never know the true quality of someone's character until the road gets rocky.

This blog has has to do with personal character, and how incredible and awesome it is to see it manifested in a positive way, in a public forum.

The University of Missouri has a race problem. White students at that school routinely spout terrible racial epithets at black students, and have gone way too far with it for far too long. Missouri's black Student President has been called the "N" word many times, along with many other minority students and even black professors. It has become a sport of sorts on that campus.

The enlightened students, both black and white tried to reach out to the Missouri School President, Tim Wolfe, many times about these race issues but were repeatedly rebuffed. An incident in a bathroom, made the racial situation untenable. Wolfe still did nothing. When students approached him at the end of a campus parade last week, he almost ran a few over with his car, and later talked to a few and made a mockery of their complaints.

One student, Jonathan Butler, started a hunger strike to protest this constant and troubling bigotry, and wouldn't eat until Wolfe had resigned. Black friends of Butler's on the Missouri football team got worried. They decided that they couldn't just stand by, and called their coach, Gary Pinkel, to tell them that they planned on sitting out football games until Wolfe resigned, and some changes were made on campus, to address these issues.

Coach PInkel, instead of worrying about football schedules, the big money involved in TV games for college football, and the ramifications of sitting out games, looked at the big picture, and made an even bigger one. Pinkel got his entire 90+ man football team together for a linked-arms photo and tweeted it out with the message "The Missou family stands as one. We are united. We are behind our players.", inferring that the entire team would sit out until Wolfe was gone.


The road was a rocky one, and Coach Pinkel, instead of ignoring the issues brought up by his "kids", stood ten feet tall.

Wolfe is gone, the Chancellor is gone, and the protest, because it entailed a very public display of solidarity by the football team, worked beautifully. Pinkel has become something of a folk hero, because he showed great character. I was left wondering how many other college or pro head football coaches would do the same? Not many, I sadly decided.

I don't know how you take children, yes children, who have been finding it OK to demean and deliberately spout hatred for others who don't share their skin color, and get them to change, but it has to start somewhere. Sometimes, the parents say these things at home and they carry on through generations. IT MUST STOP.

I applaud Coach Pinkel, and believe his show of personal character will be a start to right the wrongs at Missouri and maybe even other places, where white people somehow think that this kind of deplorable behavior is acceptable. Hopefully, Pinkel has started a very constructive movement here, and I heartily applaud his great show of character.

I am reminded of something I started saying to my curious Daughter when she was very young, and faced with people of different colors....we are all the same under the skin.

Spark on.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • L*I*T*A*
    first i heard of this story.......
    thanks for posting it!!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1987 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this story with us. May we all learn from it and help to end the hate and bigotry. emoticon emoticon
    1987 days ago
    I've been hearing a lot about the situation on NPR, and the Diane Rehm show devoted one hour of their airtime today to the subject. We have definitely reached a tipping point regarding the treatment of race, ethnicity, and other-ness in our country. There is such a divide in the United States, politically and sociologically, and it will get uglier before it gets better. More people need to wake up to the fact that hatred and disdain for people who are different can no longer be tolerated, for now and evermore.

    As a member of a group that is routinely vilified by the right-wing as having an "agenda" or a "perversion" or that my relationship is against God, religion, nature, or worse - I know firsthand what it feels like to receive messages from others who think they are superior that I am less than. It might not be my skin color, but that doesn't mean that the words don't hurt just as much. Maybe I don't hear those words sometimes because I'm not visible in the same way, but trust me, I have heard them when I didn't expect to.

    I am so proud of Missouri for finally standing up to bigotry and racial bias. There is no excuse in the 21st century to accept the kind of behavior that had become commonplace throughout their institution. The president and chancellor are getting off easy, if you ask me.

    Thanks for sharing the story, Jane. This may be the tipping point, but I sincerely hope it's tipping toward justice and acceptance.

    Keep Sparking, my friend.
    1987 days ago
    This was an amazing thing. I was reading about it in the WSJ tonight. I think it is cool on one hand, but when they mention fergusen, I cringe as I think a lot of things have been associated with that even and I don't think they have all been good.
    1987 days ago
  • no profile photo JEANNETTE59
    Coach Pinkel, Jonathan Butler, and the University of Missouri's football team are all to be commended. But, sadly this bigotry is not an isolated case.

    There is and ugliness in America today that is like a festering sore. When left to heal itself the infection spreads with devastating results. The cure is quite simple, people of goodwill, those who respect the human race, must stand up and speak out.
    The festering sore must be called by it's name, racism. And then there racism's cousins, ethnic intolerance and religious intolerance must be shamed out of existence.

    Thank you, Jane for being part of the solution.

    1988 days ago
    It was a nice and brave thing to do.
    I'm glad Coach Pinkel and his team reached their goal, and shows that the spirit of the community was positive after all - there are many countries where their beautiful action would not lead to success, only to more violence and trouble...
    1988 days ago
    I applaud that coach.
    1988 days ago
    It is deeply disturbing to see the racial unrest-- brewing in our country...
    I applaud those who have the character and the courage to combat injustice. How sad to see this conflict happening on the campus of an institution of "higher learning"
    ---- We need respectful, civilized leadership---and our children need to be trained to have regard for all humanity. Prejudice and hatred only destroy our culture.
    My home state is Missouri-- My family is bi-racial-- My message is --peace.

    Thank you for this blog.
    1988 days ago
    I hadn't heard anything about the happenings at this college but am sure it happens across the world. I applaud their coach for speaking up & uniting with his team. The way definitely justified the means. You are definitely correct in that children learn by example. Words spouted are picked up in their home life, school bus & from their peers. Stories like this should be shown at home with an open discussion for the parent & child(ren).
    Thank you for sharing. We all could use a reminder of continued injustices & what we can or should do to end them.
    1988 days ago
    I always look forward to you blogs, Jane, but today's gave me goosebumps! It is so easy to see the bad in a situation but you brought our attention to the good. Coach Pinkel and his team really made a difference! The stakes were high and others had failed. Such a positive message for all of us! Hugs to you!!
    1988 days ago
    I had not heard this story. Thanks for posting.
    1988 days ago
    reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    (Martin Niemöller)

    yes, if you see an injustice, you need to speak up. If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    1988 days ago
    WOW, this is such a great story. Coach Pinkel is a very good human being. It is like you say we are all the same. It was sad that it took a football team to take down Tim Wolf. This person should have heard the students when they went to him. He just let things get worse and worse.

    Love your blogs Jane and Steves also. Where would I be without you and Steve?? Thank God for your friendship my friend.

    1988 days ago
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