Repair requires rapidity

SCORR bridges racial breaches, but awareness wavers.

Samantha Gassaway, Writer

The bitter journey toward healthy racial reconciliation has defined Biola for years—at least since the Student Congress on Racial Reconciliation conference began. With this year’s SCORR, the road seems ever longer and all the more intimidating.

A widened breach

The 2017 SCORR conference is the first since the swastika incident that led to an enormous uproar of pain and grievances that overflowed onto Biola’s campus like water from a broken dam—which it very much was. The breach existed long before the incident occurred, but it did offer a reason for minorities around campus who have been marginalized or treated differently to express grievances in a forum they were not capable of attaining before.

The theme of this year is “Repairers of the Breach,” and the breach is all too prevalent to the Biola community and the nation at large. From Black Lives Matter to the controversial presidential election, the breach seems to only widen between racial and cultural minorities and majorities.

Glen Kinoshita, director of the Imago Dei Initiatives and SCORR, often pours himself into the weekend the conference takes place: praying for, scheduling and inspiring every speaker invited with his passion on the subject.

“If we embrace our call to do justice to restore people’s lives, then we will be called the repairers of the breach, repairers of brokenness and restoring cities and living communities,” Kinoshita said. “I would love for the students on this campus to see that this is a conversation that needs to happen but also one that is welcoming and that they are going to be embraced with love.”

A major theme of the conference is compromise — meeting people where they are with humility and grace. More often than not, that bridge is the most difficult to build in communities with breaches so deep, they cannot see the bottom.

Where Christian humility begins

“We as Christians are so willing to go to God and say, ‘I’m broken, I definitely don’t have it together, I need you in my life, help me because I can’t do this by myself, I’ve failed, forgive me.’ I’m so willing to do that with God, and what is it that keeps me from being willing to do that with other people?” said professor of psychology and breakout speaker Christina Lee-Kim.

Lee-Kim articulated the need the Biola community has to the topic of racial divides in the university as well as the nation. Where Christian humility begins, says Lee-Kim, trust and true faith begin.

One of the focuses of Lee-Kim’s SCORR talks in the past has revolved around microaggressions: the small, subtle remarks done by people which tend to slightly offend minorities who feel unheard and oftentimes violated. Most are committed by either carelessness or as attempts to breach a gap in the wrong way.

“For the Christian, the end goal [of understanding microaggression] is love of God, love of neighbor,” Lee-Kim said. “I know lots of times — in social media there’s a concept, then it takes off and people don’t really understand the concept anymore. It all becomes a knee-jerk reaction to the concept rather than an understanding of what the concept really is.”

Lee-Kim went on to explain the danger of the hyper politically-correct world in which Christians often find themselves. She admits microaggressions are more often than not unintentional, well-meaning and subconscious — however, the slippery slope that is trigger-warning culture has taken off to a place it never should have touched. On the idea of enabling people-pleasing, Lee-Kim explained how people will surround themselves with those like them in order to feel more comfortable and less convicted.

“What’s interesting with SCORR is that it has the potential to be really offensive to some people, depending on where they’re at.” Lee-Kim said. “I think people have to want to seek truth, not affirmation…  [Humility] is one of those virtues where we can say, ‘I want to be humble, but I don’t want to be humbled’… You can’t be humbled with people who agree with you all the time.”

Lee-Kim’s breakout session this year centers on cultural humility, a concept Kinoshita echoes, explaining how humility and love are the beginning of understanding. To first open up the door and allow an unfamiliar culture to step through, one must sacrifice a layer of stability which may keep a person grounded to the culture they know best.

“It’s not necessarily about our comfort zone, it’s about expanding our frame of reference,” Kinoshita said. “And I think so often, we find that the opposite is true. That we’re doing the opposite of that: we’re not loving our brothers and sisters, we’re not listening to them, we’re not trying to listen to the perspective of people opposing us.”

Potential for practical change

Meleca Consultado, resident director of Blackstone Hall and a breakout speaker, explained how the different places people come to the conference from are vital to meeting the needs of the world in which Christians find themselves.

“One of the detriments is to assume that this conversation is only meant to be had by certain people,” Consultado said. “In light of that is to know where the pain is in our body and in our community, not simplifying it.”

One of the largest breaches, according to Consultado, is the denial minorities often feel from majorities of the true pain they feel. Until their pain is acknowledged and addressed, healing will not take place.

“To dismiss the fact that part of the body has been hurting, but to just say, ‘Well, we’re all still a body.’ Yes, that’s true, but if your leg is broken you don’t want to say you can still run. No, you need to care for that leg or that place of pain,” Consultado said. “A part of that is acknowledging that spectrum of where people might be coming into the conversation.”

Biola has an incredible opportunity and potential to make a lot of practical change in the world in this regard, according to Consultado. In order to impact the world for Christ, Christians must first learn to humble ourselves and understand the implications of their own stories before attempting to reach out to others across the divide. However, she never claimed it would be easy.

“We have the opportunity for this conversation to flourish if we allow it to. If we allow it to happen, we might have to re-break bones that didn’t heal correctly. So I think being willing to know that the movement forward might mean some friction, might mean some tension, but to be hopeful,” Consultado said. “That’s where I stand: I’m hopeful of where our community can be.”

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