Friday night, Missouri Student Association President Payton Head says he was walking near fraternity row with a friend when he was verbally assaulted.
“Some guys riding on the back of a pickup truck decided that it would be okay to continuously scream NI**ER at me,” he later shared on a Facebook post.
“I really just want to know why my simple existence is such a threat to society. For those of you who wonder why I’m always talking about the importance of inclusion and respect, it’s because I’ve experienced moments like this multiple times at THIS university, making me not feel included here.”
According to Head, he and many other minority students have felt an undercurrent of racism, transphobia, and homophobia for quite some time, and the incident only underlined those sentiments.
“I’d had experience with racism before, like microaggressions, but that was the first time I’d experienced in-your-face racism,” he told the Columbia Missourian. “I could either not say anything and go about my night, or I could finish my term and stay angry, or I could say something.”
After the incident, his friend ended up calling MU Police, and, according to MU spokesman Christian Basi, authorities have since reached out and spoken to Head.
What has made this case notable is that in a day where young black men are often portrayed as volatile and menacing, Head’s heartfelt letter has touched a chord within his community due to its candor and thoughtfulness.
“Payton is a profile in courage,” said Cathy Scroggs, MU vice chancellor of student affairs.
You can read the post in its entirety below.