SCORR conference facilitates further racial discussion

The annual SCORR conference will address racial issues brought up last semester as one avenue of continuing the conversation

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Grant Walter/THE CHIMES [file photo]

Melissa Hedrick, Writer

Biola aims to find various approaches to the conversation of racial inequality after the campus grappled with the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice last semester, one such avenue being the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation conference.

THE THEME

The 19th annual SCORR conference, hosted on Feb. 20-21, will have the theme “His Beloved: The Bride of Christ” and will focus on the need to embrace diversity. The main features of the conference include the keynote speaker, President and CEO of World Impact Efrem Smith, and a variety of options for four workshops that will address prominent issues in society, such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Last semester’s vigil held on Dec. 8 displayed posters reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Evangelicals for Justice,” along with photos on a cross. Later that night, a few individuals took down the items. Days later, new signs and photos were posted to replace those taken, but were stolen again that night.

“A lot of students and faculty of color felt a shocking lack of response by the white community here on campus and a sadness that there was a lot of protesting going on across the country standing up for people of color and the widespread mistreatment at the hands of police and yet the white community here just didn’t say much,” said Tom Crisp, associate professor of philosophy.

REPSONDING TO THE THEFT

To respond to the individuals that stole the items, Crisp and professor of sociology Brad Christerson posted a note for those who had taken down the images to come and speak with them about the issue. The professors met with a few of the individuals to discuss the events, and he said that the meeting accomplished what he hoped.

“The goal of the meeting was to hear one another out, to say where we were coming from and to hear where this person was coming from and to pray together and to try to leave, if not agreeing, at least having tried to love one another,” Crisp said.

ADDING A CLASS

Another facet of this conversation is being addressed in the classroom of universities around the country. Dartmouth College has established a course titled “10 Weeks, 10+ Professors: #BlackLivesMatter,” which will begin in their next spring term. Teachers from 10 different academic departments will work together to discuss race, inequality and violence in both a historical and modern context.

“A number of faculty and students at Dartmouth have been deeply troubled about the recent events that unfolded in Ferguson, Staten Island and across the country,” said Abigail Neely, assistant professor of geography at Dartmouth and co-organizer of the course. “Many of us have felt that we both wanted and needed a way to think together systematically about these events and about broader questions of race, violence and the state in America.”

Biola has yet to establish a class like this, but some see the potential value of a similar class. Majors such as communications, psychology and sociology have classes about race, ethnicity and similar topics built into their curriculum, but it is not yet required for every student. Conferences such as SCORR give students the opportunity to engage in racial conversations.

“Studies have shown when you’re around people who think differently and see the world differently, that sharpens you. That increases your compassion for people, gives you greater insight so it enhances the learning environment for any university setting,” Kinoshita said.

 

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