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Uknighted Voices

Written by Lee Anne Hanke

Dear Faculty, Staff, SAU Students, and Community Members,

During the Virtual SAU Senior Toast this year, I reminded our graduates that throughout their time at St. Andrews, we have always encouraged each of them to develop his or her own unique voice—-and to use it. I asked them to close their eyes and paint a picture in their minds of how they would use their voice to make a difference in their community and in their world. That said, there are times, when we need to use our collective voice, as one UKnighted community, to make a difference. We were reminded of this by our student Andre’ Theophilous MOree-Roberts who said:

“It is essential for St. Andrews to voice their concern about these injustices because our school has put an emphasis on making our students feel free. While the world may make us feel limited by stereotypes, SAU is the community we feel free to break those barriers in. Say his name, George Floyd.”

 

Andre, we say his name: George Floyd and we use our voices. Our SAU campus is not one person, it is many people with many voices.  Let our voices lead us to actions that lead us to change a culture that uses race to define black lives.

 Dr. Ellen Bernhardt

An Invitation for Students, Faculty, Staff, and Community Members to Participate in an Honest Dialogue.

 IDS 290:  Black Lives Matter: An Open Conversation

The course will be taught by Dr. Tim Verhey, Dr. Franklin T. Capps, and Mr. Darrien Bailey

Offered online at St. Andrews from 6/29/2020 to 8/21/2020

Offered at no charge as a for credit course for students or for audit by anyone 18 years of age or older.

On May 25, 2020 George Floyd died after almost nine minutes with a police officer’s knee on his neck, as he repeatedly moaned, “I can’t breathe.”  That event caused America to have the breath knocked out of it—shocked by the brutality and injustice. Suddenly, we all came face to face with the truth: Black people in America have been suffocating under the knee of systemic racism for 400 years. Ever since, people have been in the streets, demanding change.

This 8-week course (that meets weekly on Zoom) will provide an opportunity for the St. Andrews community (students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others) to have an open conversation about systemic racism in America and what we need to do (individually and together) in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. This course will give participants a chance to share their thoughts and feelings, to gain deeper insights into the corrosive effects of systemic racism in our communities, and to discuss how to bring change in ourselves, our institutions, in our communities, and throughout the world. The course will also explore Black achievement and empowerment–from art, culture, business, religion, and other contributions to American life such as in HBCU’s Wall Street, NAACP, Black Owned Companies, and local African American communities. This course will include panel discussions, small group discussions, and personal reflection. The online for credit course for students is available for registration through your SAU advisor. It is listed with the other summer courses available for the 6/29-8/21 term under the registrar tab on the website. Enrollment information for participants auditing the course will be posted on the SAU website, as well as social media next week.  Please join us in the conversation. Here is some of the current conversation at SAU.

 

UKnighted SAU Voices:

Mr. Tim Reynolds

Is Anyone going to say something for our Black Community? Is anyone going to say Anything for The Black Coaches, Faculty members and Players on St. Andrews University Campus? Any going to Stand up for us?? PLEASE

Dr. Priscilla Huggins

Hello SAU Family,

I take a stand with Tim. I am grateful for the faculty members that have stood up to racial injustice. SAU has work to do in addressing diversity among the faculty staff. It is true that diversity can be found among the student body. I concur that silence is not an option, it equates to being part of the problem.

As an African American female, the racial injustice in America is real, it hurts. I cry every time I see any American person being treated with injustice. However, American history continues to repeat itself with so many African American people being killed by our police department. It is time for Americans to take a stand and work within our communities to ensure that we eradicate social injustice.

Ms. Elizabeth Blair

I stand with you and share my support.

As one who find deep expression through music, I would like to share a song written by my friend and colleague Mark Miller.  This powerful Lament has echoed in my heart all week.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU0K9Ulbu70&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0dxmIDCYi5GNUU-z0hHCXwlJhF8ytywhVxckurGsqgzotpt5gJvcq1y1Q

 

Ms. Sara Rawls

I stand with Tim and many other alumni, staff and students of the St. Andrews community who are hurting!

Ms. Stephanie McDavid

Dear Colleagues,

I care and share my support.

Dr. Tracy Feldman

Dear Tim and all,  I stand with you in action as well as words, but I have been acting remotely, from Durham.

 

Mr. Stephen Harris

I stand for my children and all the young men I strive to empower everyday at this university. While our students are away now. I hope they know that they are supported not only on our campus but In the Laurinburg community with the fight against racism.

Dr. Laura Kellam

I stand beside you & also add my voice.

It is only together we can facilitate change…

 

Ms. Marlen Bravo ’23 took these photos at a Black Lives Matter protest in Myrtle Beach, SC, her home.

Dr. Rona Leach McLeod

SAU family,

As with so many of us, this has been an extremely difficult week.  I can only imagine the pain and heartbreak endured by the Floyd family.  I can still hear George’s daughter saying, “My daddy is gonna change the world.”

I have had sleepless nights and asked myself, “why?” Yes, I am hurt, but I am also angry and know that this has to change.  So much hatred, racism, and injustice will destroy all of us.  But, we can do something, even if it is to take one step at the time.  Those of us who believe that racism and injustice have no place in our world, must fight in whatever way we can.  Speaking out is not enough – action can move mountains and we must take action in doing what we feel is the right thing to do.  I STAND AND NOT ONLY DO I STAND, BUT I STAND TALL WITH MY SAU FAMILY, THE LAURINBURG COMMUNITY AND ALL WHO WANT TO MAKE THIS A BETTER WORLD FOR HUMANITY. Yes, as a woman of color, a Black woman, I do know how the face of discrimination looks, and it is not pretty.

Stand for what is right and do the right thing to make this a better world through action.

Many of you may know that Merriam-Webster will be redefining “racism” as the result of the ACTION and persistence of one woman

Dr. Amanda Goldberg

“Lo Tirtzach! The prohibition against murder can be violated by physically killing someone, by using words against someone, and by our silence toward someone.  Simply put, we are held accountable by our Tradition if we cause someone’s death through our words and/or our silence.” —Rabbi Reuben Israel Abraham

 

As a white woman, I will never know the pain and fear that POC face every day. I will never be judged by the color of my skin. But as a Jewish mother raising Jewish children in the south, I have experienced hate and prejudice of a different kind.

 

On October 27, 2018, a white supremacist gunned down 11 people in a synagogue back home in Pittsburgh, as we frantically tried to check on friends who regularly attend that congregation. I will never forget that it was the SAU Black Student Union who came out and stood with us for a vigil to honor the lives lost.

 

I stand with them now and always.

 

English text:

#BlackLivesMatter

Translation of Hebrew (repeated phrase):

“Lo Tirtzach”

“Do not murder.”

 

Dr. Julia O’Grady

 

Since I joined the SAU community in 2015, I have reveled in the diversity of our campus. And I have also engaged in the practice of white silence, as I waited for other people on campus to speak first.

 

I am an ally, and I am also ever in debt to the black coaches, staff, faculty, students, and alumni.

 

Last week, I posted an announcement about a peaceful vigil in Southern Pines.  We all took a knee for nine minutes. Many chanted “black lives matter”. These events are so powerful. We can do the same at SAU.

 

Thank you for waking me up. There is a lot of work to be done, and I am ready to participate.

 

Dr. Dorothy Miller

Dear all,

As a Black female, I understand the pain and outrage that is being expressed by our students and faculty. I cringe in anxiety each time my Black husband, son, and brothers walk out of their homes. However, it doesn’t stop there because I must also be mindful that Black women are also the target for racial profiling and their lives have also been forfeited at the hands of those who are in authority. So yes, I must also live in anxiety knowing that my life or the lives of my daughters, and grandchildren may also be taken. I have heard the expression that All LIVES MATTER and yes they do, but saying that is like saying no need to save the Redwood trees because all trees matter.

 

I would recommend a group forum where these matters can be further discussed if desired.

 

Ms. Meagan Dial

Our family participated in a peaceful protest in LAURINBURG this weekend. It was a wonderful event. It was powerful and moving. I have had two of my cheerleaders and one dancer contact me saying how much it meant to them that I supported them and would speak out. It does mean so much to our students for them to know they are supported, as well as faculty and staff.  I wanted to share a photo of my children protesting along with us. They are our future. We thought it was important to include them. I do not fully understand the difficulties that can be experienced, however I stand in support of a change, for the betterment of our country.

 

Ms. Lindsey DeCourcey

I hope we as a community can continue to see the beauty in our diversity and also in our differences, and how we have the opportunity to unify that together in one purpose. Together we have a voice that can be heard, one SAU family, one message-that we stand together for what is right. As Dr. Miller earlier referred to the redwood trees being important to the forest, WE are the forest, and together we stand tall!! I support YOU

Dr. David Herr

I stand with everyone who acknowledges black lives matter. I will listen, learn, and act in ways seen and unseen. I will work with my colleagues to help our students understand this moment, the history that made it, and to make their own choices about what they want to do.

Our Presbyterian values and faith asks us to:

 

Inspire new approaches to active peacemaking.

Equip God’s people to be compassionate and prophetic peacemakers.

Connect communities of peace to learn from each other in shared accompaniment and take action together for the transformation of the world.

 

The past also offers us guidance.

 

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”– Martin Luther King Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress…”― Malcolm X

 

 

 Dr. Bill Loftus

In these very difficult days after the death of George Floyd we would do well to remember the message of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. —  especially as a person of great courage and vision, and as a leader who advocated fundamental societal change by non-violent means.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. understood better than anyone else of his time the power of non-violence – a message that was re-iterated so powerfully by Mr. Floyd’s brother few days ago when he stood at the site of his brother’s death and advocated action at the ballot box instead of violence.

 

Dr. King understood the power of moral argument to win out over long-entrenched misunderstanding and hatred.  He understood that determination and perseverance could topple walls, and overcome prejudices, that had stood for generations.  He knew that righteousness is mightier than the sword — in fact and not just in theory.

Ms. Rachelle Lydell

 

This has been a difficult time for many, I myself am no exception.  As a Canadian Ex Pat, PROUD American Citizen, woman of ethnicity and of Filipino decent, the events that have recently occurred have shook me to the core.  I have genuinely struggled, as have many, with the emotions that have surfaced within me and the constant battle with the self reflection of my attitudes, beliefs and reflections of life and growing up.

 

You see dear colleagues, I have dear, dear friends and family who are military and law enforcement.  Some have served, some have lost their lives.

 

You see dear colleagues; my children are mixed.  They are half Caucasian and half Filipino.  My son, 6, is visibly ethnic and has before at this tender age already been referred to as “the brown kid”, my daughter, 3, light skinned and fair has yet to experience what it means to live in the world that we have made.  I pray for my children every day and for the guidance to teach them compassion and kindness in a beautiful yet ever changing and angry world.

 

I stand with you… and with all to abolish social injustice and inequality in all its forms.

 

To end, and with only love and compassion in my heart, I leave you with a quote again from Buddha:

 

“In separateness lies the world’s greatest misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength”

 

 

Ms. Kimberly McLaurin

As we mourn and seek justice for the murders of Mr. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor (to name but a few) our society is being traumatized by the systemic, institutional racism that pervades the structures that govern and rule our citizenry.

  • How are you supporting your Black students and staff? What resources have you offered them?
  • Have you contacted every single one of them, asking what they need from faculty and leadership, how you can support them?
  • How are you working with your non-Black colleagues and students to remind them that inherent bias runs deep and that you are each responsible for unlearning racism?
  • How are you addressing systemic racism?

 

Mr. Patrick Stephenson

Dr. Verhey, I asked St. Andrews for 5 words. “We stand with our students”. No context, no sides, just some words. (It has been) Two weeks filled with checking in and being check up on, two weeks of feeling my heart drop when I drive an hour home to Fayetteville, and two weeks of watching on social media and the news people that look just like me, my little brothers, my father, my friends, and my coworkers being killed on a repeating loop. Dr. Verhey I’m tired, I’m upset, and I’m scared

Dr. Tim Verhey

Patrick,

I hear your pain, frustration, and fear. I hope this course can provide a forum to express the anger, indignation, and exhaustion that you have so eloquently expressed in your email. I hope it can be a way for us to stand together and discover how to walk forward together. Like you I am upset that we have not publicly said those “five words” that you and others longed to hear. I hope this class will be a living expression of those five words and an opportunity for all of us to speak what is in our hearts and minds.

 

Dr. Edna Ann Loftus to Lisa Hosokawa

Here is the basic outline we are working on at the moment.

An eight-week course that meets weekly (on Zoom) to deliberate together about the persistent problem of systemic racism in the United States and what we need to do (individually and together) in response to death of George Floyd. Participants will have a chance to share their thoughts and feelings, gain deeper insights into systemic racism in the United States, and consider how the bring about needed changes in our society.

 

 

Lisa Hosokawa 2009

Hi from Japan

 

I’m also grateful for your thoughts on the university’s response. Thank you so much for sending the course outline. Eight weeks! That’s excellent! One of my friends at UNCW was disappointed to learn her department would only hold a one-time sensitivity workshop. She’s currently summoning the courage to push for a longer course like yours. I’m astonished and thrilled that you and the team have come up with an outline so soon and are preparing to teach the course in just a few more. I’m especially thrilled to see local leaders will be taking part in this.

 

 

 

Ms. Kacie Villanueva

Let us make one thing very clear: this is not about the loss of a singular human life – it is about the systemic oppression that allows for black people, and people of color, to be criminalized and murdered every single day. While I agree that any decent human being would abhor these types of behaviors, it is increasingly important that you make that very well known. Right now, I, as well as many of the community members, alumni, and even members of your staff, have expressed that St. Andrews’ silence is being taken as complacency. We are in the midst of a civil rights movement in this country. To sit idly by and allow these issues to pass without having a single thing to say makes our school seem indifferent to what our black staff, faculty, administrators, and student body endure every single day.

I do believe that this course would be a step in the right direction. I think that if we continue to tip-toe around uncomfortable truths and realities, we are not making room for honest conversations to take place, especially among the white community. It’s time for non-people of color to be uncomfortable. Temporary discomfort is ok for the sake of education on systemic oppression and micro-aggressions.

 

Dr. Lawrence Schulz

Instead of elaborating on my state of mind, my dismay and my anger about the brutality we have (and are) witnessing and the failure of our nation to confront the institutions and culture of racism that have plagued our society for decades on end, I want to offer three possible pieces of an action plan for St. Andrews that I believe would not only energize us in a positive way but also give us greater understanding and hope as we go forward.  Three words summarize the three activities I have in mind: Educate, Examine, and Enact.

 

Educate!  We are, after all, a community of learning.  What we do best is study and reflect in our search for truth and understanding.  We can commit to studying the history and manifestations of racism and injustice in America.  We can all read and discuss a book such as Ibram Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist in our fall classes.  This could be required reading for our entering new students as well.  I could suggest other activities and resources but I want to keep this reasonably short.

 

Examine!  How is our campus culture a microcosm of our larger society? Where are we racists and why does this thinking and behavior persist?  We should plan, in the coming months, to examine all aspects of campus life and activities: socializing, dining, communications, sports, and the list goes on.  Armed with the benefits of our readings and discussions, we can inventory our attitudes and ways and see what needs to change.

 

Enact!  Make the changes on this campus we decide are needed and doable.  We can do our part to answer the great American call to ACT, so that the death of George Floyd and so many others will not be in vain

 

Dr. Dorothy Miller

 

I believe that is a wonderful plan and I would be very interested in seeing it come to life on the campus. However, I have also learned that sustainable change must include the relevant stakeholders. Often times plans of actions are put in place without involving the relevant stakeholders.

I would love to hear from the people who are calling for action and especially from other people of color like myself about what they would like to see happen.

Similar to what you mentioned in your EXAMINE section of the plan…What is St Andrews University doing well regarding diversity and racial equality? What could we do better?  Where are we failing?

We are being challenged to move this conversation from merely being a moment to a movement for change at St Andrews and within the Laurinburg community.

You are correct we do need action! Our response must not just be a bandaid approach aimed at quieting the outcry.  In fact, this would be like putting a bandaid on a hole in dam that’s about to burst. It’s not a matter of if but when!

 

I applaud your response

 

 Rev. Dr. Tim Verhey and Faculty Executive Committee at St. Andrews: Dr. Edna Ann Loftus, Dr. Tim Verhey, Dr. Laura Kellam, Chris McDavid, Mary McDonald, Dr. Wayne Freeman

 

We recognize and embrace the need to stand against the racial injustice that stubbornly persists in our nation. St Andrews is committed to the reformation of our society as an educational institution that teaches the art of freedom and realizes that, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We must not hide from the troubles of society in our academic pursuits but realize that we are a part of this society, and it is a part of us. Through our studies we are called to honest examination of ourselves and our world so that we can recognize, understand, and confront the falsehoods and injustices that prevent us, all of us, from becoming truly free. Therefore, we encourage all of our faculty, staff, students, and alumni to rededicate themselves to the arts of freedom, until, as the prophet Amos wrote, “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”