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My First Race Riot

When I was in junior high, my school was a victim of the stupid desegregation idea implemented by our Republican Governor Kit Bond: busing. My junior high school, Nipher, was 33% black; the other junior high school in the district, North, was 2%. The district decided to change our school to 6th and 7th grade and North to grades 8th & 9th. To get to the new school we would go by bus, a first in our school district. People on the other side of town were in an uproar about the number of black kids coming to their area.

The first day of school there were police officers surrounding the entrance. I felt totally unwanted. I could only imagine how the black kids felt. I quickly learned that they felt that if it was a race riot, they expected then a race riot they would get. Kids were running all over the school tearing things down. There was some pushing and threatening words and I remembered one of the kids angrily coming towards me. She looked at my face and said, “Nipher.” I nodded yes and she ran on. That ended my first day of 9th grade, of busing and of my first riot. No one was hurt, nothing was damaged, and nothing was accomplished. The kids, particularly the black ones from the other side were horribly treated. We were not welcomed but rather looked upon as a dangerous element entering the community. Much like the way we are treating people with a Spanish background at the southern border.

But changes would come in our little community. By the time we were seniors one of those black kids was elected “Hatchet Man” the highest honor for a senior boy. He also received a full-ride football scholarship to Missouri. And we did eventually integrate but is was simply due to socialization and by treating each other as the same. I keep in touch with many of them on Facebook. The desegregation policy was completely wrong and a waste of resources.

We continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly. If we would just treat each other as equals, understand that we are not spending money on people who won’t work but rather focus on creating an economy where people are equally well paid, and that ultimately everyone wants the same things in life then we won’t have to waste money on things proven not to work in the 21st century like walls.

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