I attended a Christian university. Stereotypically Reformed in theological outlook. Pretty whitewashed, lacking much diversity.
I have mixed feelings about the university which filled up two years of my life.
My personal experience was great. I’m a white male who, despite his heretical theology, maintained pretty strong relationships with peers and professors, generally did well in academia, and got along just fine. I can’t say the same for many a person that I know.
That said, I made so many genuine friends in those two years. It was/is full of beautiful people, such as the writer of this article.
I met Ashley Jackson my first semester as a Freshman. She seemed so full of joy, laughed at just about everything I said, and could maintain conversations about deep and real topics. I could talk to her and feel like I was legitimately being listened to. I can only hope she feels like she is being listened to.
Basically she was, and is, a rad person. And I am so excited and grateful to share a portion of what’s on her heart and mind here on this blog.
Now, I don’t claim to understand the experiences of people who are not me. I mean, let’s be honest, I barely understand my own existence, let alone the mental and emotional phenomena that happen in someone else’s sacred space. But this piece by Ashley broke my heart. I’m sorry Ashley. I’m sorry you don’t feel like you can be open about how society at large, and specific individuals, affect you on a daily basis. I’m sorry for my complicity, and I’m sorry if I’ve ever directly hurt you. Please forgive me. Forgive me as I stumble toward Christ and reconciliation with you.
Spoiler alert: Keep an eye out for new material from Ashley on her upcoming blog.
Below is Ashley’s article. If you are white like me, I pray that you read it, reflect upon it, pray about it, and frankly just…feel it. Attempt to realize that your subjective experience of reality is not reality, but only a very small fragment of it, and that you need people who are different from you to expand your heart and mind to what is, well, truly true. Let us move toward the spaces that Ashley writes about where she may talk freely about what pains her.
Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us (white community) – sinners. Draw us to reconciliation with our minority sisters and brothers so that we may also know true reconciliation with You.
Lord Jesus Christ, be with Ashley (minority communities at large), as she (they) struggle(s) with who to trust, and where to go.
Will I Always Have To Suffer Silently?
“He was kind and steadfast.”
These were the words used to describe an African American professor. He was being recognized by the predominantly white school he worked at because of his kind and steadfast attitude. As I read this, I became a little heartbroken. He is one of many African Americans who I have seen be respected for their gentle spirits.
This professor makes me think about my own life. I think of the many times I have had to tone down my message/feelings/words when it comes to speaking of injustices and what I experience as an African American woman. Then I think of this professor and wonder if he had to do the same thing. If he was overlooked by other professors because of the color of his skin. The disrespect he may have received from students because of his race. If his opinion wasn’t taken seriously because he was a minority. I think of how often he may have had to suffer silently through his many years at this school and no one would have even known.
I just wonder if he would have been respected or esteemed so highly if he voiced any angers, frustrations, or irritations he had. Would people have listened? Would he have been taken seriously? Or would he have been told to soften his message? Would people have said that he was being too aggressive and he would have to keep his feelings to himself?
Why do minorities have to suffer silently? This is a question I wrestle with a lot. Especially when I find myself in predominantly white settings. Will it ever be okay to actually express what I experience on the daily as an African American or do I always have to keep it to myself?
There are moments when I want to blow up at people. When I want people to know every microaggression I encountered in one day. But I don’t know if I can.
So what do I do with these feelings? When is the right time to share them? Is there a right time to share them?
I would love to see what different spaces would look like, where these feelings and thoughts would be verbalized, discussed, reflected on, and then acted on globally. I hope that day will come soon.