This week the University of Missouri of Athletics Department attempted to celebrate diversity but instead ended up being a brilliant example of what not to do.
According to The Riverfront Times, St. Louis’ alternative newsweekly, on Wednesday afternoon, a tweet was posted with the intention of uplifting people of various backgrounds, and specifically gave a nod to student athletes with the tagline, “more than a student athlete.”
While conceptually this is an admirable and arguably safe idea these days, unfortunately the now-deleted tweet (which was salvaged by Twitter users with screenshots) left much to be desired when it comes to execution.
In the ill-fated visual, four beaming Mizzou athletes are sorted into boxes, with each facing the camera behind a line of text that no one bothered to put in context.
On one side behind gymnast Chelsey Christensen is a box that says, “I am a future doctor” and with swimmer/diver CJ Kovac, it says “I am a future corporate financer.” But in stark contrast, opposite them were two Black student athletes, whose texts make no mention of their promising futures or even their areas of study.
With runner Arielle Mack it only says, “I am an African American woman,” and that’s it.
In similar fashion, with student athlete Chad Jones-Hicks it just states only, “I value equality.”
Oh no Mizzou, baby what is you doing? pic.twitter.com/RoyeTX8MmN
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) October 24, 2019
This fail at celebrating diversity, unintentionally just ended up being a painfully clear illustration of the racist micro-aggressions and blindspots on campus that in 2015 culminated in a series of protests and boycotts, leading to the resignation of the university system president Tim Wolfe.
Unfortunately, this misstep isn’t a one off amidst Mizzou’s social media effort to push their #NCAAInclusion campaign. Some of those stand-alone tweets also show Caulin Graves, who much like the two other Black students featured, has a banner that only said, “I am a brother.” while his counterparts are accompanied by more aspirational declarations.
that Mizzou tweet is exactly what these institutions view as being diverse.
“We’ve got our WW, and our token Blacks. We’re done.”
— Sister Night’s Nose (@Phllp_Wnslw) October 24, 2019