Intersectionality

stories from the frontlines of difference in the evangelical university

Evolution, LGBTQIA Justice, and Westmont College’s Community Life Statement

The following post is by Jake Blair, member of the Westmont College class of 2010. Jake is a writer, photographer, and arts and cultural critic.

One of my favorite memories from my time at Westmont comes from my sophomore year. Having grown up in the Evangelical church, I was a middling young-earth creationist; well versed in the apologetic arts of arbitrary question raising (“How could eyes be the result of an evolutionary process? They are so complicated”) and dismissive higher-power appeals (“I don’t know why he made the earth look old, Ray. He’s God.”)

To be clear, this is an exhausting way to interpret the world. It never really felt like a choice, though. The implications of a non-Fundamentalist-Christian-narrative (at least in my mind) were significant: if God didn’t make Adam in the Garden, then there might have been no talking serpent, no clear entry of “sin” into reality, no pre-fall perfection on earth. The Creation-Adam/Eve-Apple-Sin-Jesus narrative gets thrown on its head, and now all of a sudden there is no truth, there is no god, and our lives are, by extension, meaningless. That’s pretty dramatic, obviously. But that was the nature of the struggle that I had taken on, at least in my mind. Zealously advocating for a worldview that found most of it’s logical basis in “poking holes” in “conventional science,” if only to keep a fundamentalist creation narrative within the realm of plausibility, was my duty as a Christian: an advocate for truth, love, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Making friends with biology majors in my dorm (Page 3A, famous for our trash bag slip-n-slides and underwear) and elsewhere gradually exposed me to the reality of the science. Gradually, the harder-lined edges of my ideological lens began to soften. None of that happened because of pyrotechnic apologetic battles. Rather, it was communal exposure and dialogue which allowed me to settle into a better, more nuanced, less confined understanding of our faith, scripture, and reality itself. By the time the subject was broached in class, I already knew that making a case for Intelligent Design would be a losing battle. But the tidiness of that worldview remained alluring – cozy, even. I raised my hand and raised a few points that Intelligent design proponents like to make – probably something to do with the mind-blowing complexity of cells – and my professor responded about as well as he could have. He sighed, and said something akin to “come on, man.” Then, he gave me a firm non-assignment: to read a response, written by Jeff Schloss, professor of Biology at Westmont College, to a pro-Intelligent Design pop-doc film called Expelled.

To make an already too-long story shorter, this marked a significant transition in my intellectual life, and not just within the context of my time at Westmont. This wasn’t my first encounter with someone who professed a deeply held Christian faith that allowed for the provision that dinosaurs and people didn’t co-exist. But what left an impression with me personally was the tone employed by both of my professors. It was one of patience and compassion, resolute in their understanding, and unwavering. Like a parent tempering the tantrum of a child that refuses to believe that the sun doesn’t disappear at the end of each day.

I’ve chosen this example because I think it illustrates the reasons so many of us care about Westmont. The community at Westmont – composed of more than just students – loved me out of that fearful ideology by engaging with my inquiries and assumptions, and by not protecting me from the inadequacy of my own worldview. That environment – fostered by a community of people spiritually committed to loving their neighbors as themselves – enabled me, a student, to grow boldly into a better, more truthful understanding of the world and my place in it.

It’s within that same community that I encountered first-hand the limitations of my fundamentalist understanding of sexual and gender identity. In my mind, anything outside of a heteronormative sexual identity was the product of sin – usually the result of sexual abuse or other trauma(s), and always part of a larger spiritual confusion. These are easy things to believe when you don’t know anyone who is gay or transgendered, in part because such beliefs demands so little of the “rest of us” who aren’t “afflicted.” Making the “issue” of human sexuality a “spiritual” one, (one composed of “individual battles”), ensures that the burden of barring certain individuals from a community is taken out of leadership’s hands, and instead plopped in the laps of those “embattled” few. “We’d love to let Gary and John join our homegroup, but they have to get right with God first.”

Setting aside the fact that all of that flies in the face of all of the actual research on the matter, my own heart with regards to these “issues” changed once I encountered the tangible consequences of this woeful ideology within the context of the Westmont community. Said consequences weren’t just “spiritual” in nature: they bore themselves out in heartbreaking, tangible ways. My friends who were gay weren’t being “fixed” by being at Westmont, just like they weren’t being “fixed” within the broader context of the church.

It’s those consequences that were alluded to in an open letter that was published in Westmont College’s student newspaper, the Horizon, in 2011 (though it was written to another Evangelical school in Kentucky). The response to the letter was crystal clear – at least with regards to many faculty and students. The administration’s response, though, was paltry; a game of rhetorical hopscotch, wherein two chapel speakers – Tremper Longman and Mark Yarhouse- took to the pulpit in order to “compassionately” remind everyone that nothing was going to change.

The scriptural justification was delivered by Tremper Longman – an evangelical authority on the Old Testament, who is now in the process of promoting his own book on sexuality with longtime collaborator Dan B. Allender. To paraphrase the three prongs of Longman’s argument (with the parenthetical insertions mine, obviously): that  God’s law is the law (even when it’s not the law), that Jesus  affirmed the law (except when he was undermining it), and that the apostle Paul also thought gays were yucky (just like women’s scalps). It’s the same Scriptural™ argument that’s been whipped out for decades, the efficacy of which is wholly diminished with an examination of those very passages of scripture.

The second speaker, Mark Yarhouse, was brought in from Regent University (which was founded by Pat Robertson in the late 70’s). The main tenet of Yarhouse’s talk that morning was “stewardship.” Yarhouse is the director of The Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (ISSI), which states its goals thus on its website: “ISSI provides clinical services and consultations within the overarching framework of sexual identity therapy, which emphasizes achieving congruence in terms of living and identifying oneself in ways that are consistent with one’s beliefs and values.” ISSI’s work is different from the work done by Christian gay reparative therapy groups (or at least we’re led to believe so), though it’s pretty difficult to understand what ISSI does at all. If anything, they seem to exist for the sole purpose of conjuring the illusion of unknowability concerning the harmfulnesss of reparative therapy. While it’s probably not fair to call ISSI proponents of conversion or reparative therapy, it seems fair to say that they’re uncomfortably reparative-ish. And, that said, what’s perhaps more troubling about ISSI is the fact that they appear to acknowledge the crumbliness of their own ideological foundation, but still choose to press on with their perpetuation of myths using unintelligible Christian-ese.

At no point in either of these chapels did we hear from a Christian speaker who offered an alternative interpretation of God’s take on the LGBT community. We didn’t even hear from students or faculty members who support LGBTQIA community’s full participation in Westmont College. The administration’s collective “freak out” raised larger questions about whether they had any real interest in responding to the values of significant groups of the community that they claimed to be working to represent.

Denying the collective works and stories and discoveries of hundreds of thousands of people for the sake of preserving a narrative – a myth, to be sure, though one not devoid of meaning – isn’t just intellectually untenable. It’s intolerable. Denying our friends’ full participation in the Westmont community, and inhibiting Westmont from evolving into a community that’s wholly inclusive isn’t just “tough.” It’s contrary to the nature of the very community which played such a formational role –intellectually, spiritually, and otherwise – in my own life, and in the lives of most of my closest friends. Explicitly making my friend’s relationships equivalent to “occult practices, drunkenness, theft, profanity, and dishonesty” in the community life statement isn’t just offensive. It is dangerous.

It is time to remove that abusive phrase from the student life handbook, and begin the process of reconciliation and reform. Anything short of those stated goals is unacceptable, and continued non-action and fake dialogue will only broaden the rift between the “institution” of Westmont and the very community which has already been so tenaciously nurtured (and, subsequently, alienated). If silence and non-action persist then it will be necessary to begin taking long, substantive looks at those continually working to re-define, control, and deny the culture of Westmont.

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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.

Liberal Arts and the (White) Social Good

Another all-white list of invitees at a conference in Westmont College, this time courtesy of the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts.

Slouching Towards Apartheid

By Elena Yee

The magic number is 2050. In 2050 the demographics in the U.S. will change dramatically from being majority White to majority people of color. In fact I’ve heard it many times over that 1 out of 2 U.S. Americans in 2050 will trace their ancestry to either being Hispanic or Asian. The truth is that some states have already seen a major change and most particularly California.

Now, I’ve also heard as a result of this change that racism will come to a halt. Some say it’s out of pure practicality and others say it’s just inevitable. Yet I’m not convinced of either sentiment especially since the power brokers in the US continue to be White, Non-Hispanic and male. In fact our nation may very well go the way of Apartheid South Africa if we’re not intentional about shifting power and privilege in the arenas of business, politics, education and religion.

Just over ten years ago there was a kerfuffle at Westmont College in chapel. I won’t go into it as you can easily google it and find out about it. As a result, letters to the school paper ranged from supporting students of color who felt hurt by the situation to being essentially told to leave if they didn’t like it at the college. One former student had said, “Diversity is not an issue, it’s me” in that she was not an issue to be dealt with or a topic to be discussed. She was a student of color who felt marginalized and unheard by her peers and by college administrators.

It didn’t help that the former president of the college wrote an editorial in the local paper with the overall message that the college was doing students of color a huge favor by teaching them to assimilate into the majority albeit White culture on campus and in US Society. Even though his editorial had some points that I agreed with, much of it was overshadowed by the assertion that assimilation was what Westmont College needed to teach students.

Being who I am, I decided to take initiative and meet with him to get more clarification about what he wrote. After a short conversation he concluded that it was simply a practical matter that the numerical minority becomes like the majority in order to succeed. He wrote, “Yet this is one of our key challenges within American higher education, to enable students from other cultures or sub-cultures to become proficient in dealing with the majority culture of our country. Only then will they have access to the jobs and leadership roles they desire. This doesn’t seem fair or ideal, but it is the way societies and cultures work.

During our conversation he also asked about my family and proceeded to prop up their success as proof that the “American Dream” is true, that assimilation works, and that I should be happy and grateful for this reality. I countered that to attain this so-called dream I lost who I was in this process of becoming White. Loss of culture and loss of language meant a loss of identity not only for me but also for future generations in the Yee family.

Additionally what this former president did not recognize was that no matter how much I assimilated and succeeded, I will always be seen as a foreigner, i.e. someone who doesn’t belong here. I once had a former co-worker on campus who told me that “true” Americans spoke English. I was floored by what she said and didn’t know how to counter her assertion. What I wanted to say was that my grandmother who hardly spoke a word of English was a true American, who was widowed at a young age, raised a family of five children and worked in the sweatshops of Boston’s Chinatown. Her inability to speak English didn’t make her less of an American. Most likely she wouldn’t have had the time to learn English as she was working backbreaking hours to support her family or there were no such classes offered to Asian immigrants like my grandmother who was living with the on-going repercussions of Pearl Harbor and anti-Japanese fervor. Of course the ridiculousness was that my family is Chinese but stereotyping has a way of lumping people together without differentiating.

I ended our conversation by asking him if he, a White male, was to become a minority in the US, would he be willing to learn another language, e.g. Spanish or assimilate into the new culture by adopting its customs and habits. He definitively said that he would, as it would be fair to do so. In that moment I didn’t have the heart or the “cojones” to tell him, “Sir, you are the minority.” What he didn’t seem to realize that the so-called minority, i.e. people of color had just over took the birth rate in California and now were just over 50%. Was he learning Spanish? Was he celebrating Dios de los Muertos as his own?

Even though this conversation was over ten years ago and the demographics have definitely changed in California, Santa Barbara and Westmont, the experiences of many students of color, and faculty and staff of color are still painful and marginalizing. Add to it that speakers, programs and such are still dominated by White males at the college and it’s 2015. Then there continues to be glaring lack of racial diversity at the highest levels of leadership in at the college as well as faculty hires when it comes to African-Americans and Latinos/Hispanics.

Westmont College could either go the way of South Africa in the days of Apartheid or become a campus that truly embraces their collective future as being diverse in all the ways that’s broad and deep. By removing institutional barriers based on race, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class, those who work, serve and learn at Westmont College may take full advantage and make use of their God-given gifts and talents that exist among them. In the end, the hope and desire is that as individuals and in community they are better able to contribute to society and the world with imagination and innovation as the Creator intended from the beginning.

Written by Elena Yee

January 22, 2015

Director for Intercultural Programs 2002-2011

Coordinator for Student Ministries and Missions 2000-2002

The Evangelical College and the Question of Integrity

Of all the bemusing utterances I’ve heard from colleagues at evangelical colleges, perhaps one of the most frequent that I’ve been told — usually in the midst of a heated disagreement about one disputed institutional stand or another — has gone something like this: “It just seems to me that if someone doesn’t agree with the mission of the college, he should resign for the sake of his integrity.” This is polite evangelese that basically translates to: “If you don’t like it here, then leave.” Integrity — and ethics in general — is seen in this view as primarily a question for the individual. Little thought is given to what it would mean to think through the meaning of institutional integrity, let alone about what it would mean to come to terms with the legacy of broken and shattered lives wrought by institutional policies across the years.

I was led to these thoughts in the wake of re-reading this searing passage from Gordon College’s Dr. Paul Borgman in the context of his call for “unity within a context for diversity” as the way forward for evangelical colleges:

“[In] 1970, while finishing my doctorate in Chicago, I was offered a teaching position at nearby Wheaton College. After accepting the contract, I was asked by then Academic Dean Robert Baptista    to sign a belief and conduct statement. The belief side included a prohibition against accepting evolution, a theory declared unsound ‘by an obvious and authoritative view of Scripture.’ In good conscience and with the weight of an opposing interpretation of the Biblical six-day creation, I could not sign and was denied the position. The school’s uniformity lacked the richness of a unity in diversity, a diversity based on critically informed views on Scriptural interpretation of a huge cultural and religious issue.”

I wonder many brilliant scholars were refused employment at Wheaton College based on its hideous policies, of which the above, surely, is just one of many.  How many were denied tenure? How many have been hounded, harassed, and harangued for refusing to lie to their students about this most basic of scientific theories? How many could not make it past their third year review because their consciences would not permit them to distort evidence, or perform hermeneutical contortions, or for refusing to be complicit in the bullying of black people, Latino/a students and faculty, LGBTQIA subjectivities, and women?

And I wonder, do Wheaton College professors — and those at Westmont College, Gordon College, or Calvin College — ask: “Where is our institutional integrity?”

 

Gordon Agonistes

Selected links on recent events at Gordon College:

1. Gordon College President, Michael Lindsay, signs a letter calling for the exemption of religious institutions from federal LGBT anti-discrimination mandates.

2. The action provokes a massive backlash. Of all the criticisms leveled at the college, perhaps none quite captures the devastating fallout as this blog post. An excerpt:

“What depresses me most about this thing is the good I’ve seen done in Gloucester by having Gordon people involved, now saddled to a brand of intolerance. You deserve better, Gloucester Gordon folks. Much better. Maybe you guys could all get together and figure out statement you can put on your resume after the  asterisk next to your Alma Mater. It sucks, but that might be your best option. Whatever you wind up doing I’m guessing it will be thoughtful and well executed, as everything you guys do tends to be.”

3. Gordon’s LGBTQIA students and alumni post their stories here.

4. A section of staff, faculty, students, alumni, and parents sign a petition calling for the removal of the words “homosexual practice” from Gordon College’s Life and Conduct Statement.

5. Few have been as outspoken in support of Gordon’s LGBTQIA employees and students as professor of philosophy, Dr. Lauren Swayne Barthold. Here is a remarkable letter she published in The Salem News. An excerpt:

“From where I sit as a philosophy professor at Gordon College, it is with the mixed emotions of sadness and relief that I watch the “outing” of my employer’s policy on hiring practices.

I am sad that this policy stands at all and that news of its existence is likely to cause more pain to and isolation in the Christian LGBTQ community. I am sad that while some requests to foster internal dialogue about this issue on our campus have been met, responses on the part of the Gordon administration have been too few and too slow. Rather than initiating such dialogue, too often there has been foot-dragging. I am sad that I work at an institution that believes that not talking about homosexuality and silencing stories of Christians dealing with their sexual identities is the way to bring healing and build community. I am sad that Gordon cannot lead the way amongst Christian colleges by entering into the painful communal work of crafting institutional policy that maintains the integrity of a vibrant, 21st century faith.

At the same time, it is with some relief that our hiring policy has been made public, since this (sadly) seems to be a way to get the administration to take seriously requests for dialogue and clubs devoted to exploring themes of sexual identity within a Christian context. It is also with some relief that those of us faculty who have felt embarrassed to admit to our gay friends that we work for Gordon can now use this opportunity to distinguish ourselves from the policy. Many, many times over the years that I have worked here, I have asked myself whether I should quit in protest over this discriminatory policy. In the end, I concluded that my resignation (or even a handful of resignations) would do absolutely nothing to change the policy. I am convinced that change must primarily come from within.”

6. Gordon College English professor, Dr. Paul Borgman, writes a sparkling letter calling for “unity within a context for diversity.” An excerpt:

“A substantial number of my colleagues who take a differing Biblical position on homosexuality than presently espoused by the college have expressed to me their fear of being denied promotion, tenure, or even losing their jobs if they speak or write their Biblical views on the matter. This is a sorry fact. Our hesitancy to speak out or write about our Biblical views is a brand new phenomenon on a campus I have happily served as a professor for thirty-four years.

On the other hand, some faculty and students whose views are in agreement with the official stance have expressed their own unease toward those us who differ. I have heard about some members of our community who feel scorned, ridiculed and marginalized if they dare support the official position of the college on homosexuality. By now almost everyone among the faculty and some from among the students have sensed a growing corrosiveness of atmosphere.

Now more than ever we need what has always been true in my tenure at Gordon: unity in our diversity.

…..

In the past, most Gordon administrators, trustees, and even some faculty outside the discipline of science did not get the problem of evolution right. Dealing with this problem was led by the faculty, an important lesson and very practical suggestion for healing on this campus: faculty could be empowered by the administration, with a promise of no recrimination, to take the lead in exploring this hugely contentious issue of homosexuality and the Bible. Evangelical scholars are increasingly suggesting views on the matter of homosexuality and the Bible that differ from Gordon’s current position. Faculty needs to work diligently and openly within our own body and with evangelicals from the greater world of scholarship. Currently there is neither a mandate nor any sense of responsibility given the faculty to lead the discourse.

The administration needs to express their trust in faculty, while we faculty need to trust the president’s good will. A good first step has been taken by the administration. In response to a concerned accreditation board (The New England Association of Schools & Colleges), President Lindsay and NEASC have agreed that the college enter into a 12 to 18 month “period of discernment” regarding our position on homosexuality. This step involves a panel from across the Gordon campus: Twenty persons who have been chosen by the administration from among nominees with the purpose of discernment on this issue.

….

In response to this sobering word, then, I suggest a second and crucial step: That the faculty as a body be charged by the president to lead the “period of discernment” that both the accreditation board and the president have agreed upon as necessary.

Students could be encouraged to attend faculty dialogue, learning how their teachers and mentors, led by Jesus and the Holy Spirit in interpreting Scripture, actually conduct college-level inquiry of formidable issues.

The administration, trustees and staff could be encouraged to review the results of faculty exploration of this currently contentious issue just as faculty should be encouraged to pay attention to and respect the ways in which we are served by the administration, trustees, and staff in our nurturing of students’ intellectual and spiritual development. Staff and administration at Gordon are exceptionally bright and well trained, and so would be valuable respondents to faculty findings. But it is the faculty who needs to model scholarly exploration in this issue of homosexuality and the Bible, not just for students but for the entire campus.

Gordon has a golden opportunity to take a lead among Christian liberal arts institutions by demonstrating what such a school can do best: enable and encourage its faculty to lead communal dialogue about diverse and possibly contentious issues in a spirit of unity rather than an insistence on uniformity. As I look back on my teaching and scholarship at Gordon, what has struck me most, and sustained me beyond all else, is its unity in diversity, the freedom and richness of genuine discourse.

We have a legacy to protect and nourish. What a more and more luminous beacon Gordon can become in our dealing with this current crisis, one that has threatened our unity and equanimity. Our comportment with each other in the next year has the potential of putting Gordon more visibly on the map—for the right reasons.”

7. Faculty at Gordon reveal that even prior to the LGBTQIA firestorm, Gordon College’s president, Michael Lindsay, had evinced a worrying tendency for unilateral decision-making.An excerpt:

“Faculty at the Christian school in Wenham complained at a meeting in May 2013 that Lindsay and other top leaders made significant decisions unilaterally, according to a written summary of the meeting provided to the Globe.

Professors at the meeting expressed angst over topics including “the spiritual direction of the college,” saying recent moves by administrators were narrowing Gordon’s religious identity.

“Faculty need him to hear that there is widespread doubt about his leadership,” said the report. “There is worry that some of his decisions could rob Gordon of what has made it the unique and special place it is (both in terms of ethos and in terms of excellence of academics).”

What It Is Like to Be A Black Woman Professor at an Evangelical College

Christena Cleveland — who taught at Westmont College for two years — offers a devastating narrative of what it is like to be a black woman professor at a majority white evangelical college. Here is a telling excerpt in what really ought to be a compulsory reading for anyone who cares about justice and is affiliated with evangelical colleges:

“As the only African-American faculty member at a Christian college for two years, I experienced a constant state of stereotype threat; I was almost always in situations in which others could potentially view me in stereotypical ways.  During my first week on the faculty, a white male colleague confirmed this when he approached me and “confessed” to me that he was really pleased that I had joined the faculty because he had been harboring some prejudices against black women (lazy, stupid, violent, etc.) and he was glad to meet a “respectable” black woman who would force him to rethink his prejudices.

He thought he was doing me a favor by being transparent and confessing his prejudice, but it only served to heighten my stereotype threat. I knew that I had to represent black women to the entire community, that I needed to be a credit to my racial-gender group, and that I’d better not show any weakness. Like the women of the racial uplift movement, I thought that the StrongBlackWoman in me would save me.

It didn’t.

Over the course of those two years (the worst of my life), I refused to show any vulnerability or need even though I dealt with overwhelming institutional racism and sexism, psychological homelessness, disrespect from students, and more. After oppressive interactions as the only woman and only person of color in committee meetings, I would grit my teeth, vowing to myself that I would never let them beat me, that I would never let them see how much they hurt me. So I repressed my anger, sadness, anxiety, fear and loneliness, and busied myself with taking care of my students and others in the community like the StrongBlackWoman that I was. Everybody thought I was fine.

Walker-Barnes says, “StrongBlackWomen suffer in silence.”

The dam finally broke during my exit interview with a senior leader on my last day of employment. He responded callously when I tried to explain the concept of microaggressions to him. I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I started sobbing uncontrollably, eventually excusing myself from the interview and retreating to my car where I cried nonstop for several more hours. It wasn’t until months later that I realized that I wasn’t crying because he had been callous. I wasn’t even crying because his callousness represented all of the institutional callousness that I had experienced over the last two years. No, I was crying because I had let them beat me. Even then, I was more concerned with upholding the façade of the StrongBlackWoman than with getting actual help. That’s the magnetic power of the StrongBlackWoman identity and the hegemonic forces that keep it alive.”

The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind Is That There Isn’t Any

According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, white evangelicals believe that they they are subjected to greater discrimination than that faced by blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims and atheists.

Moral and Ethical Leadership in the American Presidency (The White Version)

Westmont College recently unveiled a speaker series ostensibly on the topic of moral and ethical leadership of select American presidents. Here is the speaker list. An all white list. The college could not bring itself to invite a single person of color to engage the moral and ethical leadership of American presidents.