Us for Us
Student chant. Hearts are broken, calling out for reconciliation.
There are no words. Simply no words, except a feeling of a need for reconciliation, unity, and peace.
Last week was devastating for Bethel University. The campus, the staff, faculty, students, alumni, and community. My heart breaks and literally I have no words. I have wrote a few words of just being heartbroken on Facebook, but other than that haven’t said much. I have felt this deep sadness about the events that have happened. For those reading that a part of the community, I am so sorry for if I get any facts incorrectly. it is not my intent as I don’t know the whole story. Bethel students painted the iconic Kresge rock with Black Lives Matter on the rock. Other students re-painted that rock and said: “BLM=Racism and Blue Lives Matter.” This is what tore me to the core. Then I saw this chant that was posted. Rallies. A few days later there was a beautiful time of Bethel community coming around that rock and re-painted it again. This time saying “Us for Us” saying we have each other’s backs. It was a beautiful picture with President Jay Barnes and Pastor Laurel Bunker at their sides. Truly a gift to the BU community. Seeing this ceremony with these leaders on campus made my heart sing.
Why does this tear me apart? Because Bethel is not only where I am getting my graduate degree, but where I got my undergrad. It is where I walked those very halls. I literally lived feet away from that rock. We painted that rock for homecoming in the royal blue and gold colors.
What can I do?
A part of me wants to think that this has only happens in the past —racism, but it doesn’t. When I was a freshmen on campus in 2005, there was a group called Equity riders (don’t remember the exact name of the group) but came to campus. They were a group that wanted to come talk about LGBTQ issues and bring light to that. Bethel opened its doors for them for discussion. This was a HUGE deal for a Christian college. I vividly remember the attacks that occurred there as well.
In 2008 my senior year of college was the election of Barack Obama. There were racial slurs on campus because he is black and people didn’t want a Democrat or a black president. I posted a Obama sign on my window of my college dorm room and people threw things at my window of my room. I didn’t feel safe in living there, so I sadly decided to take my sign down.
Walking the halls of campus though I didn’t feel safe as a woman of color. It was harder to make friends. The people of color on campus rallied together because we only had each other. There was so much stereotypes, racism, and at points I wanted to leave campus.
Campus pastor Matt Runion wrote “Genuine community is often messy and uncomfortable.” It is. Truly. These words stuck with me because I so longed to have genuine community where people to step out of their comfort zone and get to know one another and truly do live with one another. Often people are afraid. I wish we had more of that. My heart breaks because the reality is this… yes all lives do matter. I do care about the police. There needs to be better laws and new changes that happen there. I do care about everyone. BUT… here’s the deal, black lives have been so oppressed for so many years. They have been mistreated for so many years. So many of my black brothers and sisters are afraid to go to school, work, and other places because of the way they are treated. Racism hurts! Black people are more likely to get pulled over and put in jail than a white person. It makes me scared for the community, for my brother who looks African/Latino. I don’t get it nearly as much as my African American friends, but as an Asian American, it hurts as well. I cried together, prayed together, and carried together with my friends here.
It affects us all. We need to make change and we need to stand up! #blacklivesmatter
While holding hands and having rallies isn’t going to do much per say in the long term, I don’t know right now what will. I know we need to do something on a higher level. I want to put it on everyone’s hearts to look at this issue and see what you are personally doing about it. It is an issue that needs to be addressed and changed. It has been an issue for a LONG time, but I would like us to start now and here. It is a journey and a lifelong commitment.