Reflection on Monday

This is a reflection paper I had to do for Martin Luther King Jr Day yesterday. The speaker was a good choice, and I could have said much more on her points, but I got off on my own tangent. In other news, the project is turned in, and I'm studying frantically, worried about the oral exams tomorrow at 10:15:

The idea of social justice, a theme spoken of in chapel and one which Martin Luther King Jr. fought for during his life, is one I am passionate about. Star Parker, the chapel speaker, had credibility on the subject because not only is she working directly with marginalized people and fighting for them in Washington, she once was marginalized and part of “the system.” She understands firsthand the issues of poverty and racism because she herself has experienced these. I appreciate her as the choice for chapel speakers on this subject for this holiday. She says she enjoys coming to Christian schools, but to come to this particular area, with such a deep-seated history of racism, was courageous.

I don’t think most students understand the area of Indiana in which this school is located beyond “we’re an hour from Indy in the middle of cornfields.” The KKK still lives around here. The last lynching in the north was in this county. Race issues still abound in Marion and Muncie. Taylor has a huge opportunity to bring reconciliation and healing to the area, but we don’t even know where we are. That would be a meaningful MLK Day theme. In our white evangelical mono-cultural bubble, I don’t think the issue of race relations and social justice is one that comes up often enough, except maybe in an Ethnic and Minority Issues class.

I took the Ethnic and Minority Issues class my freshman year, and really appreciated it. It resounded with me- I was a minority during my elementary school years in my community, school, and church. I lived in Hawaii, and only 17% of Hawaii’s population is white. A student in chapel spoke of three phases a minority goes through when entering a new school- “Landing”- the honeymoon phase in which everything is new and exciting and the student is optimistic, “Crashing”- when the student feels rejected or marginalized because of their race or culture, and “Reconstruction” –repentance and forgiveness of the majority. I identified with these. After getting to Hawaii in third grade, I was excited- I mean, who wouldn’t be, moving to paradise from the Atlanta suburbs? It didn’t take long to crash- the first time I was made fun of for saying “ya’ll”. I was teased for being so much taller than all my classmates, for being perpetually sunburned with my fair skin. As an elementary schooler coming from the Bible Belt, I didn’t understand why my friends believed the myths and ghost stories and didn’t go to church. As my older friends got out of elementary school and went on to middle school, some went to a prestigious middle/high school I couldn’t even get into- students had to prove they had Hawaiian blood. I even tried to get involved in the culture, taking a hula class at the local parks department. That only lasted a couple weeks- the instructor wasn’t very nice to me because she didn’t think “haole” (Hawaiian word for ‘white’, literally ‘stranger’) girls should learn hula.

Before we moved away, I did come to a reconstruction phase. I got involved in what I did have an advantage in- I played basketball in a co-ed league and my height was an advantage. I went to math competitions and computer camps. I learned to appreciate the mountains rather than the beaches, where I would get sunburned. I even learned to like spam musubi- a snack with rice, Spam, and seaweed. I learned about the cultures surrounding me and appreciated them and did my best to respect them. Mostly, I learned to appreciate rich culture of whatever kind, not discount anyone’s traditions or beliefs, but try to understand them.

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