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Ouachita Stories


Beyond #blackouttuesday

Practical things you can do to take a stand against racial injustice.

Nicole speaking to studentsJune 04, 2020 - Nicole Porchia

Some are bursting out their door to their local peaceful protest and checking in on their friends and family of color. Some are watching, realizing what they see is brutally wrong but have no clue of what to say. Others are sitting with their blinders on and simply waiting while another person becomes a tragic hashtag on social media. If you have reached the point of wanting to make a difference, I encourage you to stand up against racial injustices, systemic oppression and implicit bias. Getting involved on social media is a great first step, but here are a few practical things you can consider while you are processing what is going on in the world today.

Understand that every black person’s experience is NOT the same. Just because you have one friend that has had few racist encounters does not mean it is not happening. Seek to listen to people from all walks of life within the black community. Racism is alive and well, whether it affects the people of color (POC) in your close circle or not.

Listen. Seek to understand. I realize that by listening to a person’s life experiences, you may feel the need to suggest or insert your personal experiences and things of that nature. Your response is not always necessary. For example, using the response of “All Lives Matter” to someone saying “Black Lives Matter” can be insensitive to a POC. Clearly, “All Lives Matter,” but black lives specifically are being affected in this situation. We are simply saying, “Black Lives Matter,” too. Every person of color has his or her own story if they are willing to share. Take the time to listen. When classes are back in session, join in on events we host through Ouachita’s Multicultural Student Programs or join the student group Multicultural Organization Reaching Equality (MORE).

Educate yourself. It is not the black community’s responsibility to educate you on your privilege. You can understand a lot by merely listening. Try researching and find out more about social injustice, inclusion, oppression, implicit bias and the history of racism in our country. Research inclusion language and evaluate the organizations and groups you are involved in to ensure they are inclusive. Here is a list of books recommended by a few of my brown and black brothers and sisters:

Call out racism when you see it.
Pierre Berton once said, “Racism is a refuge for the ignorant. It seeks to divide and to destroy. It is the enemy of freedom and deserves to be met head-on and stamped out.” Calling out racist statements or systemic oppression can be very uncomfortable. If you hear racist comments at your family’s dinner table, on campus or on social media platforms, take that opportunity to educate and ask questions – even if it's your grandmother! Being older and set in your ways is no excuse for making racist comments. We have come to a time where we need to challenge that way of thinking because being racist is a heart issue, and it begins at home.
A few years ago, my colleague made a racist statement. I was stunned. Did I take the time to educate that individual? Absolutely! Was I shocked? Absolutely! Was it uncomfortable? Absolutely! I challenge you today to become uncomfortable when it pertains to racism and racial injustices. 
Donate to or join local or national organizations that are focused on inclusion and unity while standing against racial injustices and systemic oppression. Widespread change is a massive undertaking that takes resources. There are many organizations doing good work on this front that are worthy of your support.
And remember, the Bible speaks about loving thy neighbor as thyself, which simply means do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Let’s be kind, let’s seek to understand and let’s be intentional in our interactions with our brown and black sisters and brothers.
I challenge you today to collectively do better. Challenge friends, family and colleagues to do better. Dr. Sells recently made a statement and sent it out to our campus community, stating:
“The brutal death of George Floyd is heart wrenching-as is the history of unequal justice for people of color in our country. This past week, Psalm 37:28 resonated with me: “For the Lord loves justice.” As a community of faith, Ouachita Baptist University stands against racism, treasuring the Creator’s image in every person. Even so, there is more to do on our campus and in our country to advance racial justice and human dignity. We ask the Lord’s guidance as we seek to walk in the way of Jesus. Help us, Lord, to do what is right, just and good in our communities, in our churches, and at Ouachita.”
He and his wife followed up with a Zoom call with students of color to allow them a safe space to be heard. Later in the week, the Sells’ participated in a peaceful protest in Arkadelphia, with Dr. Sells speaking against racism on Ouachita’s campus and beyond. I am very thankful for his leadership and stand against racial injustices. I pray we will continue to seek solutions and make changes at the university we call home.
In addition to the racial unrest in America, we are going through a global pandemic that has impacted the lives of many in the Black community as well. Your friends of color are processing, hurting and trying to heal. Check on them. Be sensitive on social media. Pray for healing.
Nicole PorchiaBy Nicole Porchia, director of Multicultural Student Programs and the Academic Success Center


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