I want to share a prayer and a plea to my sisters and brothers in multiethnic ministry: Remember our black and brown students.
Be with them.
Remind them they’re not crazy.
Love on them.
Cry with them.
Be hurt with them.
Be confused with them.
Reinforce and restore agency.
Give them space.
Let them breathe.
Fight for them and with them, if needed.
Pray for them.
Don’t rush their process. Don’t rush them to hope. Sit with them in process. Don’t rush them to prayer when they’re choking on tears. Don’t turn their pain into a leadership moment/opportunity.
I recognize that for many of us serving in multiethnic ministries, we are responsible for a breadth of students from different backgrounds and ethnicities. And while some of us are in contexts where our students have no idea what is happening around the country and we’re trying to help them engage, some of us also have the students of color in our diverse ministry contexts who are hurting and struggling.
Being a black and/or brown student at a Predominantly White Institution means constant displacement and navigation of spaces that aren’t made for you. Please don’t let our ministries serve as yet another place where these students must be in resistance.
Let us not prioritize helping our ministries engage with justice and reconciliation over pastorally caring for our black and brown students in this time—this is also justice, this is also reconciliation. Let us not seek only the growth of our white students at the expense of our students of color, particularly our black and brown students in this time in our history.
There is no formula for caring for black and brown students in this time. There is also no monolithic experience. Some students are functioning just fine and that’s ok. Some students are extremely confused. Some students have turned off their emotions so they can cope. Some students are overwhelmed with thoughts coming from all different directions…some students are all of the above and then some. Our students are complex, as we know, and that’s ok.
But there are many, many black and brown students who do feel, as a black student leader shared with me earlier this week, “it hurts to live right now. It hurts to exist”.
Another black student shared in more detail on facebook:
Didn't know that I'd still have to live my life like a normal student when everyone else continues their day largely unaffected by the plight of black people all over the country. Didn't know that I'd constantly have to explain myself to people who just don't care enough to understand or inform themselves about the daily struggles that minority students face while attending PWIs. Didn't know that people would still question "if white privilege existed" when the entire structure of this country was built on ideals that only favored white males...I'm trying y'all. I really am. But it's difficult to go about life knowing that this school does not care or acknowledge that so much of its student body is seriously hurting. #butthereisaGOD #prayforBaltimore #blacklivesmatter
Being a black and/or brown student at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) means constant displacement and navigation of spaces that aren’t made for you. Now, in light of national tragedy, we must collectively proclaim that our lives matter in every space—from the classroom to social media to the sidewalks of our campuses and streets of our cities. Please don’t let our ministries serve as yet another place where these students must be in resistance.
Our societal systems and environment are so sick and broken that they make marginalized peoples believe they are the crazy ones for being hurt, for being angry, for feeling heartbroken, for being oppressed and fighting their oppression. Please tell them they’re not crazy.
Remember our black and brown students. This stuff is paralyzing, especially as they're trying to finish the semester and quarter. It's hard to function. Remember them.
What’s astounding is, these students will teach you so much about who God is because the depths to which their hearts are broken is a reflection of God’s heart for his people.