stories from the frontlines of difference in the evangelical university

Month: February, 2015

Reflections on Racial Equality and Justice at Westmont College

The following post is by Christina Buckley, a junior at Westmont College, and co-leader of the Racial Equality and Justice student organization.

As an advocate for racial justice in a mostly homogenous setting, I occasionally have pangs of doubt about the impact of my work.

My thoughts are two-sided. Because of this lack of diversity, it is likely that I am turning some people away in my efforts to bring forth further understanding. When confronted, I consider whether I am in the wrong setting to advocate for justice — a place of privilege and power.

Is it wrong for me to stay comfortable in this community and advocate for the rights of minorities, which I rarely see? Shouldn’t I be working toward social reconciliation in a setting where the issue is most prevalent?

When the questions are asked this way, answers of doubt are inevitable.

But I believe God placed me in this community to discover my passions and build knowledge for future work. It is necessary to be in this community, where I am comfortable and able to express vulnerability. Then I will be able to build the confidence to leave my comfort zone and move on to a larger setting where I will have a wider impact.

When I am faced with expressions of ignorance and apathy from current peers, I must remind myself to not be discouraged for these reasons: I am in a community among powerful and passionate members of society. With the right education and motivation, the individuals in this community can use their socially granted privilege to break down the exact power structures that gave them that ability.

New questions to ask myself in inevitable moments of doubt are these: How can I be an example of hope and purpose to my peers? And how can I use this environment to its fullest potential as a support to the work I will do in the future?

It is my desire to soon be a resident of a low-income neighborhood to centrally and holistically support the array of needs of a minority people while also furthering my investment in its wholesome and communal culture. But until then, in order to combat ignorance and build confidence, it is truly best for me to be educated at this privileged evangelical institution


What It Feels Like to be a Latina Student at Westmont College

Bethany, a junior at Westmont College, narrates a day in the life of a Latina student at Westmont. An excerpt:

“Yesterday night, after a day and a half at the St. Mary’s Retreat Center as a student leader for Intercultural Programs, my friends invited me to McConnell’s. …. [O]ne of my closest guy friends spoke up and said, “Hey Bethany! I have a story that would make you feel better and laugh a little!” So naturally I said, “Alright, fine. Go for it.” He tells me of how they were at the restaurant  and noticed a Latina woman who was drinking some alcohol and loudly saying, “She was the life of the party, saying a lot of funny stuff, yelling things in a spanish accent!” and all of these other things pertaining to her ethnicity. He kept telling me that they laughed and wished that I was there to experience it and laugh with them.

Not only did this not make me feel better, it angered me to the point of storming out of McConnell’s without saying goodbye to my friends..I drove back to Westmont…and headed towards the Westmont Observatory to be alone and stargaze. As I was stargazing, I couldn’t help but cry because of what I have been feeling as a person of color. I called my mother and told her what happened, she calmed me down and said, “I am so saddened and blessed that you are growing as a young Latina woman and seeing all the injustice around you. Will they ever understand what you are going through? No, but that’s okay! This is a part of your journey that you’re going to have to go through while staying true to who you are.”

Go read the entire post at Bethany’s blog here.