Jena 6 affecting Biola’s campus

It is hard to believe something like this is actually happening. It’s 2007, 50 years after Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, and we still have to deal with racism. It’s a complex situation, the conflict at Jena high school in Louisiana. It has completely torn apart the town; the danger is it could tear apart so much more.

The whole Jena 6 story is beyond disheartening. I still can’t believe the types of things that happened in the months of confrontation, the racism and hatred that ravaged the small Louisiana town of La Salle parish. The oppression is offensive to anyone who hears it. If prosecution goes through, and the six boys accused go to jail, it will be the biggest case of prejudice we have seen in this country since the Klan.

But I see a dangerous threat in the Jena 6 debate, as it affects our campus and our diverse Los Angeles, as we relate to the horrible circumstances in Louisiana.

The fact of the matter is that the South is a different world. Impossible to understand, unless immersed in it, our connection to what is really going on out there, as students at a private Christian University in sunny southern California, is a weak one. The oppression felt there is simply not something we experience here, or probably ever will.

As much as it hurts to say it, I think the Biola campus has racist tendencies. We spend so much time trying to reconcile races and understand different cultures that we force ethnic groups to mobilize. In the spirit of unification, our multicultural assimilation actually segregates.

What’s worse is that the segregation is subtle. In an attempt to understand different ethnic groups, the campus fosters to culture pride. Different racial groups refuse to mix. It’s not something that can or should be forced, but it should at least be possible.

We as believers should seek to be one, unified body of Christ. The beauty of the body is its diversity, its appreciation and most importantly its cooperation.

For a body to work, all its parts must work together. If even a toe is out of place, walking is difficult. In order for the body of Christ to move and shake this world, it has to be unified, across racial, but also sexual, and even intellectual boundaries.

As a center for spiritual formation and renewal, Biola University must be at the heart of this unification. But I don’t think it is. The school is trying, but I’m not sure it’s working. We spend so much time honoring culture and respecting origins, we forget to spend time together, and end up just as isolated from one another as we were before we came here.

Why do racial groups on this campus travel together? It’s comfortable of course, and understandable, but why does it have to be that way? If we as a school receive awards for being a multicultural conscious campus, why do we still travel in packs?

We cannot let the Jena 6 conflict segregate our own campus. We can be upset. Yes, all of us can. But why seek to own the oppression as races? We cannot let it create tension here. It should be a motivation to be more unified, not a chance to choose sides. We cannot let the hatred and misunderstanding carry over to our campus. We need to recognize, on top of our culture and heritage, that we are Christians unified above all else. Every man and woman on this campus is connected through Jesus Christ our Lord, and we should be more united because of it. We must stop spending all our time recognizing and stating our differences on racial levels, and begin to develop and expound upon our spiritual similarities.

Let us all be angered by the Jena 6 scandal and cry for justice as one voice. Let it not break apart the body, but instead make it stronger, preparing us to better approach and change the world.

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