Not racism

By Mike Hawley

I am not a racist. And I am happy to discuss how my support and affection for Chief Illiniwek does not, in my mind and heart, make me one. I am happy to discuss how much admiration and respect I have for the Chief, and what he represents to me for my university and my home state.

But at the end of the conversation, if the people I am talking with do not believe me, well that is then their problem, not mine. And while I mean no offense by my actions or feelings, if offense is taken, I apologize and move on, for I know that I cannot convince or please everyone, and I will have done what I can. How truly unfortunate it is that my representatives at my university do not feel this same way. Your lack of fortitude for what most of you believe and for what many, many university supporters believe, is, frankly, disappointing. And your decision is unacceptable. Consequently, I must show my dissatisfaction in the only small tangible way that I can: I will no longer support my university financially, including the immediate cancellation of my season football tickets. There is racism in this country, but we have let this debate over the Chief act as a figment of that, rather than tackling the real thing. The tragedy in this whole affair is that now I will have to focus that much harder on looking for real prejudice, because my knee-jerk reaction will be to discount the next protest as just more political correctness run amuck.

Mike Hawley

University alumnus ’83