On a very ordinary weekday morning, students of color and non-Christian students awakened to swastikas and death threats on their dormitory doors. “Go back to Africa,” “Puerto Ricans not welcomed,” “Jews killed Jesus,” and other such comments were scrawled across dormitory walls.
Understandably, the targeted students were terrified and trusted no one; and, the general student population was horrified. In one stroke, everyone became aware of the invisible, non-majority students.
Local police and the FBI quickly responded. The entire campus was put on alert.
Because of the nature of my work in student affairs, I was deeply involved with the victimized students, as well as a campus of several thousand white Catholic students who grieved lost innocence and the prejudice displayed.
Eventually, the perpetrator was identified and appropriately prosecuted, but not before there was considerable campus-wide soul-searching and intervention. My dissertation grew from this incident.
Without belaboring all that occurred, there is one point that I wish to share today. Prejudice hides in the best of people. It often is not recognized, because there hasn’t been an incident or occasion for it to be elicited. Once seen, though, it is not resolved with simple words, like Black Lives Matter or White Lives Matter or whatever; because, these words separate more than they educate.
Bridging the divide requires recognizing that we share one humanity. It requires rubbing shoulders with people who do not look like us or think like us or worship like us. And, it ultimately requires forgiving those who fail to see us as we are.
I was deeply moved by the video below, because it powerfully captures the dynamic I’ve tried to explain. I hope you have a moment to watch it, for I am pretty certain you’ll love the featured heroes. They have a message for all of us....