Point Loma Nazarene University’s department of Literature, Journalism, Writing, and Languages (LJWL) invited Krishauna Hines-Gaither to give students and faculty two separate lectures on diversity, equity and inclusion on Nov. 2. The event was a part of LJWL’s “Committed to Diverse Perspectives” series created by LJWL department co-chairs and professors of Spanish Jacque Mitchell and Paula Cronovich.
Cronovich said that she and Mitchell came across Hines-Gaither’s work as they were developing an anti-racist curriculum for their Spanish classes.
“This speaker in particular was [chosen] in order to reach a wide region [of people], and not just niche Spanish classrooms,” Cronovich said. “We wanted to get this message across that we can all learn something, and we can all be a part of changing what could be [perceived as] a not-welcoming campus climate.”
Cronovich said that LJWL’s “Committed to Diverse Perspectives”’ series serves as a way to create spaces to learn about perspectives that may not be considered a dominant worldview.
“We can be a part of the solution, not just in academic classrooms, but across administration and all of those different bridges on campus,” Cronovich said.
Cronovich said the series is a way to extend antiracist curriculum beyond the classroom and invites the rest of campus into a space of learning.
Rebecca Flietstra, PLNU professor of biology, attended the faculty lecture on Thursday. Flietstra said via email that Hines-Gaither presented faculty with a slide listing characteristics of antiracist educators compared to evasive educators.
“She [Hines-Gaither] emphasized to the audience that we shouldn’t label one side as ‘good’ and the other as ‘bad’ but realize that we all are on a journey and at different stages of that journey,” Flietstra said. “She also mentioned that different structures present in a university or a department, can push someone out of the antiracist category into the racially evasive category.”
Flietstra said that Hines-Gaither avoided judgment, making it easier to engage in honest self-assessment and to think of concrete steps to take in the future as an educator.
“Conversations about race are difficult, and they’ve only become more difficult in recent years,” Flietstra said. “PLNU is a Christian university and, as such, should be a place where all of us – faculty, staff [and] students – are engaging in these difficult conversations.”
Hines-Gaither said the goals for the student lecture and the faculty lecture were the same, but the methodology for presenting the information was different.
“The goals were that we would define antiracism, we would receive tangible tools to be able to incorporate anti-racism, and we would have resources to help us on our journey,” Hines-Gaither said.
She said her presentation with the faculty was much more lecture-based, while the students had an interactive experience.
“I would hope that people take away that the work of anti-racism is within their reach,” Hines-Gaither said. “It’s not for the experts, it’s not for people of one particular identity, it really is community work that everyone can engage in and should engage in.”
Hines-Gaither said that she felt that speaking to different groups of people on campus would be how actual change would be enacted as students talk to their peers about what they learned and faculty begin to reimagine the work they do in the classroom.
“I hope they take away that now they have a few more tools to be able to enter into the space of anti-racism and incorporate this work into so many different levels of the institution,” Hines-Gaither said.
Second-year Christian studies major Rianna Nowlin attended the student leader training at 3 p.m. with Hines-Gaither.
“I learned that it’s not as scary or awkward to talk about these kinds of things with people you’ve never met before as I might have thought,” Nowlin said.
When Hines-Gaither asked students to name a part of their identity that they felt proud of, Nowlin said that she felt challenged to think about what it actually meant to live out pride in a particular part of her identity.
“I think the basis of just having conversations like these is so much more powerful than we might think, whether it’s in leadership roles or just with friends,” Nowlin said.
After the student lecture, Cronovich said that she felt there was something faculty could learn from PLNU students.
“I hope we can dispel the myth among faculty that students are uncomfortable talking about these things inside and outside the classroom,” Cronovich said. “This demonstrated how receptive students are to these conversations, and we [faculty] should want to have them in class so we can learn from our students.”