14 December 2013

Walk the Talk


Hey Friends!

I know it's been a while since I posted, but now I'll post double :) This first one is more serious than what I've posted in the past and a reflection of all the events surrounding social justice that have been occurring on campus lately. Unfortunately, acts of bias such as racism, still happen everywhere even in this day and age. Lewis & Clark is not immune to the flaws of our greater society and it's a disservice to everyone to have that false view. What I think is special, though, is how our community reacts to such hatred. In the past month, there was some anonymous race-related hate that further marginalized some minority groups on campus. Soon after two of these events occurred, there was an organized student response to show that although there may be some people in our community with those negative views, it's by far not all of us. 

Walk the Talk became the pinnacle student event from a very busy two weeks of organizing students and faculty and gaining support for a community-level change. Supported with hot drinks from the Dean of Students, College Outdoors, and the MRC (Multicultural Resource Center) hundreds of students stood out in the cold (on the first day of Portland snow) in front of our Manor House in support of equal civil rights. The black student union in conjunction with other interested students created a list of "demands" including petitioning for more cultural diverssity in our academic courses and diversity training for faculty members. This factor in particular circulated through the faculty and last I heard, over 70 faculty members had signed on in agreement.

Personally, this has affected me deeply. As one of the few black-identified females on campus, these anonymous messages did feel like a very personal attack. Initially, I didn't feel safe here and couldn't make sense of it all. I then realized that I shouldn't be suffering in silence, instead I should be talking about how this is affecting me with the people who care about me. Through many tough and exhausting conversations, I realized that I have found a much greater support system here than I could have ever imagined. I was flooded with love and hugs and friends checking up on me and teachers gladly allowing extensions and acceptance from all angles. Everyone I'm friends with was at the sit-in and felt empowered to take action as well. 

The biggest take away from all of this is that we truly are a community. And when one person isn't feeling safe, it's not just that students problem or students that look like them. This is a Lewis & Clark Community problem which can only be solved in that same way. We can always find ways to heal. 

With love,

Chelsea