By Stephanie Garza
SAN ANTONIO—Students, faculty, staff and members of the community came together in a packed Providence Hall West Social Room to have a conversation about race in our society.
The conversation was given a platform by the Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Book Club reading for the 2018 Spring semester, “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God” by Kelly Brown Douglas. As the title suggests, this book offers a timely and heartbreaking look into the mind and heart of African-American mothers and the range of emotions they feel raising children in our “Stand Your Ground” culture.
Provost of OLLU, Dr. Marcheta Evans, began the conversation by asking the audience if they knew what “The Talk” was.
“The talk is the conversation where you sit down with your child, specifically African-American, and you talk to them about how they need to act, look, or don’t look in public,” Evans said. “because if they don’t act, talk, or do all those different things some actions can be perceived as a threat.”
As a mother and grandmother, Evans went on to say that she has to have this conversation with her grandsons and even her granddaughters which is something that many African-American parents and grandparents have had to do more than ever in recent years as a way of keeping their children safe. Evans said that the book club was established as a way for faculty and staff to engage with the students of OLLU and talk about social justice issues.
With Black History Month less than a month away, Evans said that this specific book helps with “continuing that conversation, and whether you’re black, brown, let’s talk.”
The evening featured readings of various excerpts of the book by guest speakers including, Professor Antoinette Winstead, Department Head of Drama and Mass Communications and Dr. Jane Grovijahn, Associate Professor of Theology and Spiritual Action.
Grovijahn is also the reason Provost’s Diversity and Inclusion Book Club chose to read “Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God” this semester after she recommended the book.
The reading ended with Evans opening the floor to any members of the audience that had any questions, comments, or concerns. A concern that was raised multiple times throughout the talkback was not knowing what we as individuals can do in our everyday lives to help combat racism and to raise awareness about these issues that impact our society as a whole.
A younger audience member’s concern is what she described as “faux activism,” where her generation and people on social media in general like to talk about raising awareness and fighting injustice online but don’t actually take any action.
She and many other members of the audience said they attended the reading so that they can do more than hashtag their concerns but learn about these injustices and educate themselves.
OLLU faculty, staff, students and the community became part of the conversation by attending the reading.