WRITTEN BY: KAI PETERSON | CONTRIBUTOR
Monday morning, Jim Wallis, pioneer of the Christian social justice con- science spoke in chapel. I had the honor of meeting him in Washington D.C. so I was thrilled when I heard he would be speaking.
Mr. Wallis wasted no time in making people feel uncomfortable. Much like Nikki Giovanni, a few nights later, I think when you have as much experience as they do, you start to worry less about what might make people feel uncomfortable and just stick to your message about what you feel is important.
At any rate, there was some discomfort in the room that morning, and I witnessed first-first hand what some PLNU students really feel about racial issues on Yik Yak.
I decided to write some of them down in the hopes of holding up a mirror to the PLNU student body to show that, in our quickness to condemn someone like Mr. Wallis as peddling a nonissue, we prove that racism still is very much prevalent in our community.
“Only this guy would make the big minority of ‘white racist cops’ look like a huge issue.”
“‘#selmastrong?’ Really PLNU you’re donating money to a school. Not a social justice issue. Seems like a political move that doesn’t belong in chapel. Support the cause if [you’re] going to say #selmastrong.”
“‘Maybe if you acted more Christian and less white’ reverse it, ‘if you acted more Christian and less black’ there would be a riot and rightfully so. This guy is an idiot.”
“America has become a place where words hurt and everyone gets offended when a freakin pen drops. GROW UP! stop crying over little problems.”
“‘I’m just gonna cut to the chase… Black people don’t bathe enough, they all have nappy heads with who knows how many fleas and parasites are in them, and they act like uncultured apes.”
These are words from the anonymous students of PLNU.
These comments from our students should sting painfully. I’m not black, I’m white, but if I were black I know how these words would, not only hurt me, but would scare me, knowing that every time I interacted with another student, I could be interacting with the author of one of those five “Yaks” above. I would have to wonder about what my white friends might be capable of saying about me under the cover of anonymity. God knows the last thing I would feel would be welcome at this school.
The Yaks above should just sit with everyone who attends and works at PLNU. We fancy our school “diverse” and yet so many of us would rather get angry about a racial topic in chapel than passionate about making our black brothers and sisters feel listened to. It seems that, in the words of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, we’re more concerned with being called racist than we actually are with racism. We should reflect deeply on that, but in conclusion, I’ll offer some brief responses to the Yaks above…
Again, I’m not black, but my cousins are, and until he died of cancer a few months ago, so was their father. The fact of the matter is that every day that goes by that they walk the streets of Los Angeles they could be misidentified by a police officer and killed. It doesn’t help that “black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people,” according to a Guardian investigation.” The 14th amendment guarantees every citizen equal due process of law. That amendment’s protections are being denied to black Americans and that IS a huge issue.
The campaign is called #selmastrong because the school we’re donating to is in Selma, Alabama. I’ve actually been to the school, I have seen their need for assistance with my own eyes, and their lack of resources IS a social justice issue. If it makes you uncomfortable that your school is engaging with this social problem and bringing someone in to talk about it in chapel, then that’s more of a reflection on your own imperfections than the school’s.
The decided opinion of the third Yaker is amazing. I suppose now he or she feels a fraction of the pain that black people have felt throughout history as their environments have constantly told them to be less black. No, third Yaker, that’s not a card you get to play.
On the fourth yak, if you have problems with political correctness, and breaking down linguistic and institutional racism, you don’t get to decide on behalf of the people it actually affects that they’re just overly sensitive. If you were killed by a police officer, or if your parents or siblings were, you wouldn’t be a “pen dropping” that no one should get offended by. You should stop treating your fellow citizens thus.
As for the fifth yak, there’s not much to say. Just shame to be felt. Go read it again, as a final reminder of what a student of a Christian university is capable of saying about African-Americans in 2016.
photo by jisc.ac.uk