Good Evening everyone and thank you for inviting me to share my experience with you all today. I count it as a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of this event. I want to begin this discussion by asking you all to enter into a mindset of love; the level of love that I am speaking of is Agape (unconditional love) First is loving yourself. Next is your family, how about those in your community, Let’s move beyond the community and look at the state in which we live; the country in which we reside in with the world in which we live. As you search deep within, allow yourself to ponder on this question would I ever do something to hurt the person I love?
During the week of January 2nd through the 9th myself along with seven other students attended one of three Dorothy Day Immersion trips. My group had the pleasure of going to Ferguson, Missouri. Our site leader was Rev. Nelson Pierce and it was truly an honor to have him as our leader. We often called him Superstar because wherever we went someone knew him. During my trip I was challenged in ways I did not expect and I experienced a range of emotions from confusion to anger sadness and defeat. However, I stand before you all today to say that though those emotions still lie within me there is a sense of hope that I feel as well. To witness up-close the racial and economic disparity in Missouri was sickening and to know that these issues are present in society everywhere is even more disheartening. Yet, the endless conversations my group and I would have during our reflection time or in the van and even the late night discussions the girls and I would have in our room brought joy to my heart. Hearing and seeing both black and white people coming together acknowledging white privilege and understanding that although this is not their struggle they can be an ally to the struggle is very uplifting. By educating their white peers on their privilege that they may or may not be aware of to help in the movement to eliminate racism and create a space for all races to live justly.
Although, this all sounds well and good I struggle with how we accomplish this here at Xavier University. Xavier is a Jesuit Institution who prides themselves on being men and women for others. But I raise the question of are we truly men and women for others, when our own community is segregated? Someone once told me you must make sure your own house is clean before you help others and I believe that is why I struggle with this issue on how we educate and fight racial injustice when our own house is not all the way clean. Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his “‘I’ve been to the Mountain Top” speech, “I can remember when Negroes were just going around as Ralph has said, so often, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when they were not tickled. But that day is all over. We mean business now, and we are determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world” But can we truly accomplish this when there is an open season on black lives? Again raising the question, would you ever hurt the person you love? Nonetheless young black men and women ae being slaughtered gun down in broad day light for no reason except for the color of their skin. I challenge my white and black counterparts sitting in this room today to take heed to Martin Luther King’s quote and reposition your thinking on racial justice. Asking yourself is Xavier truly doing all they can do and am I as a student either with privilege or without doing all that I can do to bring light on these issues. It is not enough to be educated on these issues if we do not act on them accordingly. We now have a responsibility and moral obligation to take a stand and make a difference to fight racial injustice here on Xavier’s campus.
I leave you all with this and I still hope you are pondering on my initial question, would you ever do something to hurt the person you love? We must be willing to convert into a mindset of love for everyone before we see color. If we enter into every situation every encounter with someone with the mindset of love there would be less killing and racial injustice in our world. We would want to help our sisters and brothers and not hurt them. Xavier as a whole must fall back in love with its own community and from there we build the foundation and the building blocks to fight these issues of racial injustice on and off Xavier’s Campus.
Antronette Black is a senior sociology major, political science and psychology minor who is from Cleveland, OH. Antronette enjoys working with children she is a firm believer in educating and providing resources and opportunities for our future. She is also very passionate about social justice issues on and off Xavier’s Campus as she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Black Student Association. After graduation Antronette plans to continue to work with children and her ultimate goal is to someday open up her own nonprofit creating a community and safe haven for children living in inner cities.