The University of Missouri (MU) has been struggling in the aftermath of its Black Lives Matter protests, including the reported plunge in students and applications. It appears that even a vigil for the dead in Orlando at Mizzou inevitably leads to a confrontation over race. The conflict arose in a vigil held in front of Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Missouri. MU graduate Tiffany Melecio appeared and expressed discomfort over speaking before a group with so many white people. When a gay couple objected to introducing divisive race issues, MU Multicultural Center Coordinator Stephanie Hernandez Rivera defended the comments and denounced the gay couple objecting to the introduction of race into the vigil.
Melecio told the mostly-white audience that “I was really nervous to get up here, because there’s a lot of white people in the crowd.” When a couple people laughed, Melecio insisted “That wasn’t a joke.” She then added that “I wish this many people came out to our racial demonstrations and our Black Lives Matter movement, . . . As much as it is awesome that there’s so many people here today, but it’s, like, who are you really here for?”
Melecio proceeded read off facts about prejudice against non-white LGBT people, which she said white people probably wouldn’t know, “because you’re white.”
The result brought a rebuke from Carl Brizendine, a gay man who was attending the vigil with his husband: “We are here to be uniting, not dividing, which is what you are doing now.” Brizendine’s husband is a history student at MU.
The objections to the comments led to the intervention of MU Multicultural Center Coordinator Rivera “I love you so much right now, for getting up here, when so often your voice is unshared and it doesn’t matter. [Then addressing Brizendine] If you feel uncomfortable with the fact the people who are murdered are Latino people, that is a personal problem. You cannot be an ally to a single person, or a part of a person.”
The video has gone viral and triggered a debate about the importance of race rather than sexual orientation in the massacre.
What do you think?