Written by Lexi Baysinger. Media by Riley Hannula.
The Upper Union filled to the brim with students, faculty, and community members who wanted to learn more about this movement called Black Lives Matter. They sat and listened to Pedro Valentin deliver questions to a panel consisting of Dr. Christina Smerick, Professor Jessica Estevez, Dr. Eugene Dunkley, Professor Marcos Gilmore, Dr. Greg Sanders and Mr. Michael Lennix. Each person on the panel was clearly passionate about the topic and as the night wore on, the audience was treated to their knowledge about the subject.
The night opened with Dr. Dunkley sharing some of the more theological views about Black Lives Matter, he would later share more of his personal experiences with what this movement means to him. He explained that the Christian call is one of action. He quoted James 2: 17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” His position was that we cannot just sit and talk about these matter, we have to act upon them as well.
He also talked about the Good Samaritan and how Christians aren’t called to ask why someone is hurting, it is the job of the Christian to help them. Dr. Smerick focused on the need for this subject, especially as part of the majority group. She commented that we have to figure out how to marry anger at the face of injustice with the fruits of the spirit. In this way, we figure out how to truly work for justice in the ways that God wishes us to.
When the conversation moved to the Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter, there seemed to be a dividing line within the panel. Professor Gilmore summed it up well, he stated that all lives matter comes out of not knowing enough, it comes out of people feeling the need to say something and validate everyone instead of just one group. That seems to be the case most of the time, people don’t understand that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t saying that their lives matter more than anyone else’s. It’s just saying that their lives have value as well.
At the end of the panel, as the night was closing up, Professor Estevez challenged the crowd to think about how they wear Jesus. They were to think about how is it that they show Jesus to the world in the way that they carry themselves. If we are truly to bring the light of Christ to the world, then we have to embrace the life that Christ has laid out for us and live into the lives that He has planned out for us. We were challenged with the words of Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.” We must love justice enough to make ourselves uncomfortable.