A group of about 400 University of Mississippi students gathered to protest the re-election of President Obama shortly after his victory was announced on Tuesday, November 6th. The Ole Miss students gathered in the student union after rumors of a “riot” spread on social media. While many students were reportedly chanting political slogans, others chanted racial slurs and burned Obama campaign signs.
Ole Miss and Mississippi have a long history of racial violence and tension. Ironically, this racially-charged incident came just after the 50th anniversary of violent rioting sparked by the forced integration of Ole Miss with the enrollment of its first black student, James Meredith. The University’s mascot until very recently was Colonel Reb, a Confederate officer and connection to Mississippi’s Civil War past.
Political attitudes today are undeniably linked to America’s history of slavery and what George Lipsitz coined, a “possessive investment in whiteness.” These maps help illustrate the way in which a state’s history of legalized racism influences present day political decision making and party affiliation.
The idea that Obama’s win marked a post-racial American society is a fallacy and the racist slurs and chants at the Ole Miss protest are just one example of racial tensions and conflict that still exist.
What do you think is the best way to combat deep-rooted racism on college campuses? Speakers? Group exercises?