University of Missouri Demonstrators Segregate White Allies to Create ‘Black Only Healing Space’

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
November 12, 2015 Updated: November 12, 2015

Student protesters at the University of Missouri made the decision on November 11 to segregate white supporters so they could form a “black only healing space.”

Seven groups were formed out of the Concerned Student 1950 group, which has been fighting against alleged racist behavior on campus. Six of the groups were non-white, while the seventh was all white.

Steve Schmidt, one of the activists at the gathering, sent out a tweet describing what was happening. 

Black Lives Matter activist Johnetta Elzie confirmed that white people were asked to leave the other groups alone, saying via Twitter that the group had created a “black only healing space for the students to share, decompress, be vulnerable & real.”

Jared Koller, a reporter with KOMU-TV, said that the white participants had gathered upstairs in their own group at the behest of the black students.

Mark Kim, another reporter for KOMU covering the meetings, confirmed that report.

“White allies are upstairs in their own breakout group,” he said in a tweet.

The gathering took place at the school’s student center after a planned protest march was canceled due to bad weather.

The gathering came just hours after the vice president of the Missouri Students Association said in an MSNBC interview that there should be more “safe spaces” for “healing” for students, responding to a question about First Amendment rights.

“I personally am tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students when they are creating a hostile and unsafe learning environment for myself and for other students here,” Brenda Smith-Lezama said.

“I think that it’s important for us to create that distinction and create a space where we can all learn from one another and start to create a place of healing rather than a place where we are experiencing a lot of hate like we have in the past.”

It also came a few days after the official Twitter account of the student group said in a tweet: “It’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.