A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an interfaith service and dinner with the Jewish student group on campus called MN Hillel. This is an annual event hosted by Hillel in which they invite students from Christian groups across campus to come learn about them and their practices, and share a meal and service together to build inter-campus community among faith groups who may not normally interact.
I’ve felt a heaviness on campus this year, more than in previous ones.
In keeping with our values of service, justice, curiosity, and integrity, LCM-TC is headed to Albuquerque, NM to serve and learn alongside the Pueblos of New Mexico, and the indigenous people who have lived there for millennia. We hope to extend the learning of our student vision team about how spirituality, art and culture contribute to resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
We understand this as an extension of who we are as a community of faith, and hope that if you decide to spend your spring break learning and serving with LCM, you’ll also engage with our racial justice work on campus, and that you’ll participate in learning about Native issues in the North both before and after our time together in Albuquerque (we’ll do this together, no worries!).
We’ll spend 5 nights in Albuquerque during spring break (March 11-16), and the total cost to you will be your plane ticket (right now they’re running $400-$550), and a $50 deposit. The sign up deadline is January 30th, but there is a 15 person cap, and plane tickets are likely to go up quickly.
Peace to you today…
By Student Servant Leader, Libby Witte
Now that it is finally December, I look back on November with a heavy heart. In a month I normally associate with Thanksgiving and love, I was instead filled with remorse for the hatred and anger in the world. As Christians, we are called to confront injustice and acknowledge the hurt in order to improve the world. Right now, there seems to be so much injustice… how can we as Christians possibly confront all of it?
Back in November, we came together for a conversation about where our faith meets racial justice in this new age of racial tension. While we had had this event planned for months, it ended up being eerily timely with the many recent terrorist attacks, including Paris, and the death of Jamar Clark, right here, in Minneapolis.
This semester, the LCM leaders have been discussing how to tackle racial injustice. Now this may not come as a shock, but the leadership of the Lutheran Campus Ministry in Minnesota is primarily white. Being able to come out of our small group of white people and have an inter-racial conversation about race is something I find really important, and it doesn’t happen very often.
Why don’t these important conversations happen frequently? Well, maybe because it’s hard. It takes a lot of vulnerability to talk to somebody who had experienced life differently from you and be aware of any biases you may bring with you.
Initially, it was silly to hear myself and other white students try to avoid referring to people as “black” while black students tried to avoid referring to people as “white”. Here we were to talk about race… and we were too bashful to use race indicators in conversation! But once we got past the preliminary discomfort, we had built a level of trust necessary for being honest about how race affects our lives. My status as a white person gives me the ability to ignore race issues if I want to. As a white woman, I have the option to avoid these hard conversations entirely. While people of color have to face racial injustice whether they like it or not, I don’t. I can choose to not care.
This is what privilege looks like.
Talking about race is tough. It involves active displays of vulnerability and honesty and humility and empathy. But is this not what God wants for us? Aren’t we called to meet our neighbor in their hurt, and walk alongside them? Aren’t we called to stand up against all kinds of oppression? How do we call ourselves Christians if we hear cries of injustice and ignore them, because it makes us uncomfortable? And how do we, as white Christians, expect to tackle racial injustice if we don’t talk about race with people of different colors and backgrounds?
Spending an evening engaging in these questions was spectacular. But that was November. Now it’s December, and the conversation isn’t over. If I took away anything from our discussion about race, it is that not only is racial injustice real, but it is constant. If we want to see an end to the division and discrimination, we need to continue to fight for it. We cannot let the hard conversations end while the injustice continues.
I.am.indignant! It has been my word of the semester. This semester I have been taking a break from design school to participate in a program through the Higher Education Consortium of Affairs (HECUA) focusing on inequality in America. The curriculum focuses on a variety of topics from wage discrepancies, housing, race and class issues, and politics. During the course of the semester I have learned so much, but I have also become so very, very angry.
Take housing for example. Most of our housing issues today stem from legislation and practices from the 1950s. After WWII there was a housing crisis that prompted suburban sprawl. During this time banks and realtors would “red line” certain areas, marking where they would give loans based on race or class. Realtors would “steer” certain families into certain neighborhoods, increasing segregation. Exclusionary zoning limited who could live where based upon their ethnicity, creating pockets of race around the city. Over time these pockets have been allotted different resources creating inequality between them. Some areas were destroyed during the era of urban renewal, removing affordable housing all together.
Now you may think that these practices have been outlawed by now, and most of them have, yet they still affect us. We still making zoning laws that limit residents based on their income. Richer sectors require 3 car garages and certain lot sizes ensuring that only those who can afford such luxuries live in their community. Communities given different resources in the past still don’t have equal access. Many of our communities are still segregated. So here I am, indignant. How are such unfair practices from 60 years ago STILL impacting us? How are we still unwilling to live near the people we work with or shop with or worship with? Why can’t we strive for a more equitable distribution of resources? I hope that this makes you a little uncomfortable too; uncomfortable or angry enough to educate yourself, or your family, or friends, or faith community. After all, we are called to care and love those around us, to change the systems that foster despair, hate, and poverty. I hope that you too are indignant enough to want to make a change, to live in an equitable community with those around us.