The words “diversity” and “community” are undoubtedly overused on this campus. Sometimes they describe truly beautiful and cooperative spaces that exist at John Brown University. Other times the words ring superficial and empty in the ears of those relegated to the sidelines. The diversity of our student body is beautiful and a slowly growing reflection of the image of God, yet massive inequalities remain.
BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ students are ostracized, tokenized and stereotyped. Some students are tokenized into a safe, acceptable example of diversity, while others are spurned at this university.
Historically, these inequalities have stunted the development of students, removed opportunities, induced mental and physical illness and instilled a sense of shame and guilt in marginalized students. The negative impacts of their time at JBU often stick with them for the rest of their lives.
As a predominantly Christian campus, this should greatly disturb our superficial peace. 1 Corinthians 13:6 reads “love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out,” (NKJV). We, as a student body and community, too often rejoice amidst injustice. We fail to recognize when our peers are suffering, when our words tear open wounds or when our choices alienate others. We prefer a peace punctuated by ignorance because it is easier to rejoice when we can’t see our classmates’ tears.
Last week, Noah Mitchell, a member of our Board of Trustees, said, “Love is a choice that activates action.” I challenge this student body to stand and embody this love. This looks like choosing to hear the voices of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ classmates; to educate ourselves on how our words and choices impact the marginalized; and to openly reject hate, cruelty and violence against our peers.
Love Activates Action is a campus-wide movement towards a more equitable JBU, fueled by the radical, truly unconditional love of God. We reject providing a platform for hate speech or cruel ideologies in the forum, classroom, hall or study space.
That is why we, as a community, reject the extension of welcome to Eric Metaxas to speak in a forum on September 8th. Metaxas has repeatedly displayed anti-Black rhetoric, supported those who harm the innocent, disdained the existence of LGBTQIA+ persons and promoted physical violence and corporal punishment. He profits off of his hatred and is being paid to do the same on this campus. Metaxas has not had single moments of failure, rather he consistently displays hatred in his daily, public behavior. We stand together as a unified student body to protect and recognize our marginalized peers. We firmly believe that our BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ student body members matter and deserve respect. We will continue to stand unified until the inequalities that marginalized image-bearers suffer are eradicated in every form.
Graphic courtesy of @love_activates_action