The Mizzou Protest is More than Just About Race

Kamila Jambulatova is a senior journalism student at Mizzou. She’s not black, or hispanic and that’s what makes her story and experience at Mizzuo more intriguing and why it needs to be told in the context of the week’s events.

Check out her blog, Dusty Rose Dream.


November 10, 2015

By Kamila Jambulatova

This has been a very emotional, yet exciting week for Mizzou. Whether you covered it for any of the news outlets, or simply taken a part, observed, or kept up with all the events on campus, you know that it has been a historic moment for the university. This movement will continue on and I am excited and hopeful for the change that is happening and going to happen on our beloved campus.

Over the course of the last few days, with extensive media coverage of the story and the overwhelming amount of tweets and Facebook posts, it was amazing to witness history being made. With so many opinions and statements flowing around, it was hard for me to state my points while it was happening. Being caught up in the swirl of things, I felt like I needed to take everything in, consume news and listen to opinions as much as I can; I needed to read, learn and educate myself on the matters. Now, with things slowing down a bit, I am able to take a step back and to reflect on things. I want to write this post to share my personal opinion and my personal experience with racism.

I was born and raised in Astana, Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan I was never a part of a minority group when it came to my race. While I believe that I experienced oppression as a woman in the country that emphasises traditional gender roles, I’ve never experienced racism geared towards me, until I came to Mizzou. That being said, I want to exaggerate that I love our campus, but I want to share my personal experience.

Since I never personally experienced racism in my homeland, it surprised and confused me when I was put down by certain members of this campus with racist slurs and inappropriate comments. My sophomore year, I was walking down the street in Greek Town with my friend, it was quite late and there was barely, if no one, on the street. I was going back to my house, when certain members of a fraternity screamed racially inappropriate, sexist and degrading comments directed towards me. I don’t remember it word for word, but the parts I remember I don’t want to even say out loud, it was that disgusting. After the incident I was furious, I was confused and I was sad. I felt violated and I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know why someone would go out of their way to be so hostile towards me, when they don’t even know me. So I cried, I told my friends and then over time those words stopped echoing in my head.

After that incident there was another one. It started with one of the fraternity men on this campus, who made a comment that again was hostile, rude, sexist and racist. To my surprise and, I am not going to lie, to my excitement, a female friend of mine punched him for being racist that night. I am not promoting violence in any way, but in that moment it felt great that he faced consequences of some kind.

Those two incidents are the most prominent in my mind, but there are some many more ignorant comments I get when I say I am from Kazakhstan. For example: “Oh you are from Kazakhstan, don’t bomb me!” or “You are from Kazakhstan, do you know Borat?….” which usually is followed by an inappropriate joke from the movie. I tend to brush those comments off, but I think we need to start taking a stand and say something: “No sir, I will not bomb you. Because my country’s name ends with a “stan,” does not automatically mean we have bombs and terrorists. Please educate yourself and don’t pollute my day with your ignorance.”

This is my personal experience. I believe I grew up with a certain sense of privilege: I was upper-middle class and I was not a minority in my hometown. Because of that I can’t even imagine what it is like to grow up facing racism on a daily basis. I can’t imagine what it is like to grow up in the country where your ancestors faced slavery. I can’t ever fully understand and feel what it is like to have a different life, different upbringing and different challenges. What I can, and all of us can do, is listen, be open-minded, learn and to educate ourselves. All of us can and should open our hearts.

I was so happy and excited to see change being made, I applaud #ConcenredStudent1950 and Jonathan Butler for their unbelivable bravery and activism. It is a “movement and not just a moment.” Inequality comes in so many ways: race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and many more. I do believe in equality and I believe that there can be a change for the better, it won’t happen overnight, but it doesn’t mean it will never happen.

Another incident I want to mention is when journalist Tim Tai was blocked by activists. When Melissa Click asked for “some muscle,” she did not only violate the First Amendment, but also perpetuated the stereotype of a violent black male. As a journalist, I felt enraged that he was physically pushed and treated with such disrespect while trying to do his job. I understand the idea of a private space, but again the quad is not a private space and he was not trespassing any private property. He had every right to be there and he was peacefully taking photos. I think many people tend to have negative feelings towards the media and I don’t blame them. There are many instances where journalists twist stories, get some facts wrong or frame a story in a negative light. But your personal disliking of the media, does not make it okay to be hostile towards it. It all goes back to being respectful in this community, it all goes back to the First Amendment of having the right to free speech and protest.

I can completely understand being overwhelmed by the media and I don’t blame #ConcernedStudent1950 to want to space themselves from the media. But I do believe that media brought national attention to the issue, and if you did not want the attention and wanted to get away, you could’ve gone to your personal home and no one would have a right to come in and take photos without your permission.

I think everything comes down to respecting each other, respecting the right we have and not using physical or emotional abuse to intimidate others. Despite that incident the main story is that Tim Wolfe has been removed from the position, the #MizzouHungerStrike is over and, hopefully, there will be changes for the better. I believe the MU campus can be and will be a safe space for everyone. I am proud to witness and take a part in this movement for a better #OneMizzou!