Calvin has been officially committed to the work of anti-racism since 1985. While there is always much work to do, it is important to recognize that racial justice is a biblical value, and that anyone who follows Christ is commanded to seek justice for all of God’s people, specifically those that are and have been historically oppressed. While we strive for justice, diversity, inclusion, and equity, we recognize the value that different experiences and backgrounds bring to our community. Having students who are typically underrepresented on Calvin’s campus is not just a benefit for those students but also strengthens us and makes us better as a community on the whole.
In light of this summer’s long overdue national crisis of conscience about racial injustice, we at Calvin University are doubling down on our efforts to offer more types of learning events for our faculty, staff, and whole community. We want to consider how we can be anti-racist and the steps that we as individuals and as an institution can take to ensure that our community continues to grow in our understanding of diversity and inclusion, that we really live into and become a place where we do and we are what we claim, that we embody and embrace diversity and inclusive excellence, and that we are a community that is welcoming and a place of belonging for all different kinds of people.
The Five A’s
On August 5, the Center for Intercultural Student Development (CISD) and the associate dean for diversity and inclusion hosted a “Listening to Students of Color” panel. Eight current students and recent graduates shared their experience as students of color on Calvin’s campus. Two participants, Drevonte Davidson ’21, and Jacob Williams ’22, described a list of five A’s that the Calvin community can remember as they work to be anti-racist and better allies to our students of color.
Address the works and contributions of people of color (POC) who have contributed to the development of our society. There have been an incredible number of positive influences and role models throughout history. Don’t strip the youth of that opportunity because it can change somebody’s life. That can be inspiring.
Acknowledge that there are many white members of the community who have racial biases. Try to establish relationships and create a safe environment for your peers who are POC. Get to know them— really know them. Make a conscious effort to understand who they are because when you go to have those difficult conversations in a classroom or outside in the general community, they will be that much more willing to talk to you.
Ask your peers about their feelings and emotions during the current racial climate. You should want to know how they feel and what you can do to contribute positive energy to the struggle. They might say something that changes your perspective. You might start living life a different way; you never know. Don’t avoid that kind of feedback.
Advocate for faculty and staff of color to be hired in your field or area of influence. Professors and various levels of administration can play a large part in this. We need more staff of color. The youth need more positive role models and influences to help guide them in decision- making and creating a stable foundation for the journey of life. We need more representation and also to diversify. When you do that, you get more perspectives and can create an environment conducive to everyone’s growth. Don’t just cater to three-fourths of the population.
Amplify our experiences so they can be seen and heard for what they are. And if others want to be allies to us, they should listen to and try to amplify our voices. Uplift our voices so that people who wouldn’t normally listen to us will hear us and understand us. This doesn’t only pertain to the POC that you are directly in contact with. It also pertains to POC who have contributed to different fields of study and expertise. Acknowledge and amplify their work as well! Too many times when POC are vulnerable and share their experiences, they are diminished and sometimes even discredited by others. If you aren’t a POC, then you will struggle understanding our experiences. Diminishing and playing them down doesn’t help you understand either. We all have a role to fill in the current racial climate—whether we know it or not. Don’t diminish and downplay, amplify and uplift.
The full audio recording of our student panel can be found here.