African Americans have been mistreated throughout the entire history of our country. While in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of racism has been brought to the forefront after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Their last moments, which were caught on video, have pushed people to see a true problem, not just in America, but worldwide.
Kim Phipps, Messiah College’s president, and Todd Allen, the special assistant to the President and Provost for Diversity Affairs, sent out a statement about these recent events.
Cherisse Daniels, the Director of Multicultural Student Programs, found it important that Phipps and Allen acknowledged this current situation. To her it showed that they knew how important the issue was and that they cared about the community. Their statement gave her a sense of peace. Despite this, more must be done.
“More dialogue on racial tension is necessary in moving forward,” Daniels said.
She already trains student leaders about diversity inclusion. She believes it is one of the most important aspects of her job because then leaders “are better informed when supporting students of colors and aiding with their issues,” Daniels said.
She found it crucial that Christians step outside of their comfort zone and have dialogue on racism in the church. “We need to come together as a community and be there for each other and support one another,” Daniels said. “It is important to understand we are the human race and we are all children of God. [In order] to celebrate His kingdom, we need to celebrate us all.”
Nuria Lane is a junior sports management major with a minor in marketing. With the generational and systemic racism still prevalent today, she found it very important to talk about, especially at Messiah College. But, as a Christian school, she believes we need to lead the way with love.
“As Christians, we need to love God’s people and God’s world especially during these times. Instead of waiting for something to happen, be proactive,” Lane said. “James 2:17, basically says faith without works is dead. We need to put our words to action and change things.”
She encourages discussions on racism be required in programs such as chapel, first year seminar (FYS) and created and called for community (CCC).
Lane said, “Cultural events should be mandatory and would not be a difficult task to issue.”
Not only would this help students understand diversity, but it would also introduce different cultures into their world.
“People do not know what they do not know and ignorance is a problem that also contributes to the lack of change,” Lane said. “Even if it makes them uncomfortable, we still need to have these discussions.”
Lane emphasized how important it is that the discussion does not stop with just the students on campus.
“Nonblack faculty (should have) to be mandated to have sensitivity training and should be pushed out of their comfort zone as well,” Lane said.
As Christian community leaders, Phipps and Allen have sent a message to their community saying that we need to be the change we wish to see.