Mizzou: What does being rich have to do with it?

mizzouSo, this morning I see that people are getting all worked up because Jonathan Butler, Mizzou student, activist and hunger striker, turns out to have a father who is quite wealthy? How wealthy you ask? His dad made 6 million last year and his family has a net worth of over 20 million. This has a lot of (mostly white) folks REALLY upset. I mean, hey, he’s got money, why is he complaining? How can there be racism when you are able to pull down that much money?

I am going to let you in on a little secret…

Having money does not shield you from racism.

I will say that again. Having money does not shield you from racism (or sexism or homophobia or any other form of discrimination, except for people who are discriminated against for being poor. Money will help you out with that one).

Just because a black student (or professor) has money does not necessarily mean they are treated equally at Mizzou (or anywhere else for that matter). Do rich black people not experience racism? Do people ask them first if they have money before mistreating them and then decide against it if they are wealthy? No. Of course they don’t. Does being wealthy keep them from being pulled over for driving while black? Actually, no, it does not. Many times they are pulled over more often because they are black and driving an expensive car. Does it keep them from being assaulted by police? Again, no. Ask Thabo Sefalosha or James Blake the famous tennis player. I have very successful professional friends who are followed in department stores, called “boy” by police officers in front of their kids, and whose kids have been called the n-word at their posh private schools.

Let’s review…

Question: What does having money have to do with being treated as less than because of the color of one’s skin?

Answer: Not a damn thing. Privilege is not just about money. 

Related articles:
Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person

My Privilege

2 thoughts on “Mizzou: What does being rich have to do with it?

  1. Thank you! I was making the same point to a group last week about America being the so-called “land of the free.” Doesn’t matter what job you have, how much money you have, or any other factor; if you’re a person of color in the US, you are not free right now.

  2. Pilar Ortiz-Groseclose says:

    Very well written Michelle with good feedback Cynthia.
    Just adding/venting: I have been followed by both uniform and nonuniform security in Tiffany’s while wearing over $6000 in diamonds which were purchase for me by hard earned, dedicated savings. No they were not protecting me. They were more concerned about my meeting a certain profile due to skin tone.
    In Maryland in 1967 I was expelled from White Castle in Baltimore being told they did not serve “niggers.”
    White and black drinking fountains had me confused since I am Spanish decent.
    Unfortunately, I understand, too well, the anger of many minorities. We are not asked about education or any other questions that are never asked of so-called white people. And I say “white” people cautiously. Not all white skin tone people are white.
    That is a subject for another day!

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