By Isaac Moore, Contributing Writer
Black American citizens are overlooked in society. For centuries, advancement towards the rights of black citizens only occurred in response to a substantial outrage from blacks which garnered a legislative response to pacify the disgruntled citizens. Thousands of lives were lost in the Civil War to end slavery, thousands of men and women sacrificed a variety of luxuries to end segregation and thousands across our nation today are protesting to end injustice against people of color in America.
When evaluating history, it is easy to provide a moral pass to ourselves; surely Asbury’s Christian community would not have accepted segregation or the evils of slavery if they were relevant today.
As uncomfortable as it may make us feel, Asbury College did not take a stand against the racism of Jim Crow. Asbury College was not a beacon of integration prior to (or after) the Civil Rights movement. Asbury University is not a radical advocate for people of color today.
The year 1960 marked the first time that American-born black citizens were allowed into Asbury College. Admission into the school had its own parameters if a student was black. Black students had to be married coming in so that the school could avoid the “issues” with interracial dating and integrating dormitories. Asbury College had the opportunity to take a stance against racism and failed to do so.
In recent news, Colin Kaepernick’s protest against American injustice towards people of color has spread across the NFL and other professional (and youth) sports. President Trump articulated his disapproval for the ways that these athletes are protesting. A large portion of Asbury’s campus sympathizes with President Trump’s notion that these black athletes should find another avenue to spread their message. As I personally inquired of people on campus if I should take a knee during the anthem this season, I was met with tremendous opposition.
America has undergone a war, and blacks are still not pacified. America has undergone desegregation, and blacks are still not pacified. Many who have not invested major time in their personal life living in black communities are confused as to why blacks are still upset. Millionaire athletes protesting against injustice makes little sense to the outsider.
Michael Bennett’s account is the best illustration of the reason that many are protesting. When Bennett was in Las Vegas, a cop pinned him to the ground for no apparent reason. Bennett was taken down and was abruptly allowed to leave custody when it was confirmed that he was an NFL player.
Bennett is not protesting because of what happened to him, he is protesting for what would have happened to him if he was not an NFL player. Each and every professional athlete that is protesting is not upset about the lot that they are dealt, but the situations that thousands of black Americans are forced to live under every day.
If the Asbury community wants to change its narrative as to how it deals with listening and advocating for the black community, it will start by listening to the voices of people of color on campus and in the culture. Asbury has tolerated various forms of racial injustice since its conception in 1890: Jim Crow, segregation, educational neglect and police brutality just to name a few.
When racial tensions begin to rise, Asbury says little to nothing about them. Indifference and silence in times of injustice benefits the oppressor. If you listen to Cloyd Rivers and Tomi Lahren while scoffing at Kaepernick, you are continuing Asbury’s legacy of racism.
Dear Asbury, be humble, or be quiet. Do not continue a racially insensitive legacy of a mostly white campus that cares more about articulating its opinion than hearing the perspective of the outcasts in society. Dear Asbury, we are not culturally competent. We have a jaded view of the reality that many people in America face every single day. Dear Asbury, if we are to provide our gift of holiness unto the Lord, we must first make restitution to our brothers and sisters who we have wronged. (Matthew 5:23-24). Dear Asbury, it is time to take a position of humility and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Dear Asbury, it is time to love thy neighbor as yourself.