Jonathan Butler Can Eat Now

Jonathan Butler Can Eat Now

But the students of Missouri should not lose their appetite for the fight.

Published November 9, 2015

Jonathan Butler, please get yourself something to eat, sir. You deserve it.

And Tim Wolfe, the University of Missouri System's now former president, isn't a sacrificial lamb in the American public school system's cyclical relationship with white supremacy.

Wolfe isn't a big bad wolf, either. And his black sheep status won't last for long, but he will have to find greener pastures to graze instead of public education. The playing field now belongs to the brilliant young activists and heroic athletes who executed this coup. But they can't rest on this victory. They need to continue channeling their newfound power into tangible progress.

There's time to eat, but not sleep.

Wolfe won't live as a black sheep forever. He will be celebrated as an underground martyr to those who still romanticize America's tangled roots in racism and capitalism. But he will also endure the same pain of being a social outcast from which his students were begging to be protected from. Will that be the legacy of his Mizzou presidency?

Wolfe is not guilty of a malicious aggression. He is not a wolf in the way that Donald Sterling, Don Imus and Paula Deen revealed themselves to be. But he is not as innocent as an adolescent Justin Bieber dropping n**** with chainsaws either. And his action was not as inconsequential as Hulk Hogan or Mel Gibson's racial rants. Wolfe was guilty of an unforgivable passive aggression: 

He turned the other cheek to the people he was sworn to protect. A leader can't do that, especially in times of chaos.

But it's very possible that deep down, Wolfe knows that the flawed psychology of white supremacy needs more protection than anything right now.

If Olivia Pope would have been there to tell him to address the controversy head on, Wolfe could have become lionized by his flock, like Donald Trump — and without the social stigma of a Bull Connor or George Zimmerman

But the true lion of this saga was a child by political standards. Jonathan Butler, the mastermind graduate student whose hunger strike and social media savvy sparked this movement, that slayed the false king of a system that did not require all its people be treated equally under the laws that govern the land.

Butler has shown a prodigal knack for leadership, giving students worldwide the blueprint for peaceful protest in the digital age. But the tool must be used wisely — with the same bravery of the 40 Mizzou football players who were willing to sacrifice their precious careers to make a statement. The same statement the Los Angeles Clippers made last year in the wake of Donald Sterling's comments: One game of glory cannot outweigh a life of purpose.

As long as the Mizzou activists don't rest for too long after their first meal, the movement will continue forward. But they cannot mistake the end of a successful battle for the end of the war.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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(Photo: Daniel Brenner/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP)

Written by Calvin Stovall


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