by Stevie Smith
Walking around campus this week, I have been met with photos of fellow students holding up signs that say things like, “Isn’t that the man’s job?” and “You’re pretty for a black girl!” and “I know you know how to whip and nae nae!” These statements wouldn’t mean much if they weren’t coupled with students who make the words stick out like a sore thumb. A girl holds up the Isn’t that a man’s job? sign. A dark-skinned boy holds up the whip and nae nae sign.
You get the point. It’s a political statement, and it’s an invitation to join the conversation about unity on Evangel’s campus. Coming up on February 20, various leaders on campus are hosting EUnite—an event that is hosting open and facilitated discussion about race and gender issues. It’s refreshing to see these conversations happening on campus, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to engage in them.
Though racial and gender tension is alive all over the United States, it is not our priority to tackle the problem at its largest point. We are starting small, here on our little campus, to understand each other and begin a conversation that will cultivate growth and comprehension among ourselves. Right on Evangel’s campus, we have black and white students, students from South America to Asia to Africa, male and female. And though we desire to completely understand one another, we currently do not.
So we are starting here, with small conversations that we hope will turn into something bigger. As we begin to understand those within arm’s reach, we then begin to understand those miles and miles away. Communication is the only way to make this happen—conversations governed by honesty, grace, kindness and openness. There will be error, lapse of the right words to say and misunderstanding, but there will also be forgiveness, insight, and healing.
The thing is, we’re all different. I am a white female who has never experienced unjust treatment because of the color of my skin. But I want to understand those who have. I want to know the pain, so I can take part in the change. I have been told that I can’t perform well at sports and that a certain role is required of me because I am a woman. I hope that as I share my stories and opinions, there will be understanding. We all have perspectives to share, and these conversations are meant to reveal them and be met with grace.
I’m so glad that Evangel is a place that welcomes change, transformation and growth. As a student, I have grown in my beliefs and have gained a better understanding of what is unfolding in our world today. The leadership and students at Evangel have welcomed difficult conversations with courage and have turned hurt into healing. I know EUnite will do the same.
Sign up on your floor today to participate in the discussion.
Stevie spends her evenings eating donuts and watching ‘Friends’ with all her besties. When she graduates she hopes to travel the United States in a camper, open her own donut shop and write a book.