Thursday, August 28, 2014

Debunking "White Privilege"

This should actually be titled, "How rejecting the concept of 'white privilege' helped me to embrace my heritage and respect others without constantly needing to feel guilty about the color of my skin."

If you are a big believer in "white privilege," this may make you mad, in which I say, "Now it's your turn!" Here's the thing: I have been mad since the first time I heard this theory, and I have become increasingly irritated while more and more articles come out saying regardless of a white person's background, life story, or economic status, they are automatically more privileged than any other race, simply because they are white. Not only is this presumptuous, but it is also racist. This notion is absolutely ridiculous to me and I am no longer willing to sit back and take it. So, here goes my five-point debunking of the "white privilege" myth.

1. Everyone has a story.
Notice how I did not say every minority has a story, but rather that everyone has a story. I don't believe that a person's tragedy is more or less tragic dependent on what the color of their skin is. I do know that every person I have ever gotten to know has dealt with things that I would not wish on anyone. Life is hard, and we all struggle with different things. This famous quote summarizes my thoughts on this: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." I love this quote because it is a reminder to be understanding and have compassion for ALL people. It does not say that every minority is fighting a battle or that every white person is not fighting a battle--in fact, there is no mention or condition on who struggles most; all the quote says is that everyone is fighting a battle. I believe that if we all thought more like this, our world would look a lot better!

2. I am not just white.
I am proud of my heritage. I am made up of many different ethnic groups that cannot simply be categorized as white. Minority groups are often referred to by their origin, not their skin why is it different for "whites?" Because no one wants to take the time to know what they actually are? But, to go along with the "white privilege" argument, I will explain why where my white comes from is not privileged.

I am at least 30% Irish, and that is the biggest chunk of any of my background, so I will start here. Irish slavery began in the 1600s. From 1640 to 1650, the Irish population went from 1.5 million to 600,000, due to England's killing and selling of the Irish. Yes, that's right--Irish were used as slaves. This began in England, and continued on for two centuries in America (and other places colonized by England) once England started selling the Irish. You might be asking yourself, "Wait, why don't I know about this?" It's because our history books conveniently leave out this information so there are no "white" slaves. Also, the given term is "indentured servants," however, the Irish were treated just as poorly, if not worse, than African slaves. An African slave cost 50 sterling...guess how much an Irish slave cost? 5. That is 1/10 of an African slave. This meant that the beatings that often lead to death for the Irish "servants" were common because they were very cheap and easy to replace. England stopped selling the Irish in the 1830s, but the Irish that came to America during/after the potato famine from 1845-1852, did not receive excellent treatment because they were white. Actually, they were targeted completely because of where they were from and what they represented (obviously the skin color made no difference). Employer's posting "Help Wanted" signs would add "Irish need not apply." I would like to dig deeper into these roots and see what connections my ancestors have to all of this horrible history. But the Irish part of me would absolutely not consider this history to be privileged.

I am also a large chunk of Russian Jewish (sorry I cannot provide you with an exact percentage haha). I do not feel the need to go into the history of the persecution of Jewish people because 1. You already know how millions of Jewish people were targeted and killed for no reason and 2. I probably went way too in depth with the Irish history and I have more points to make still!

I would also like to add that I am Hispanic, Native American, and German. These are all things you can't know about me by just looking at me, which I think is the fascinating part about humans. This is why I do not like to simply be called "white," when I know I represent SO much more than what is seen at surface level.

3. "I Have A Dream..."
When Martin Luther King Jr. said, "I have a dream that my children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," I wholeheartedly believe he meant that to apply to ALL colors! He meant ALL people should be judged by the content of their character and NOT by the color on the outside. This leads into my next point...

4. Society's Obsession with Race.
First of all, so we're clear, race is a human-made way to group people based on their skin color. The way in which our society acts about race is so discouraging to me. I believe the obsession with diversity and "white privilege" leads to more tension and more racism. This can be seen especially in the news right now in Ferguson, Missouri. A police officer (who happens to be white) shot and killed an 18-year-old (who was black). Right away, I felt so sad that this young life was ended so abruptly (and I still feel this way)! However, the media and community immediately made assumptions that the police officer is some horrible racist, not even taking a second to pause and think that maybe he was protecting himself. He was automatically in the wrong because he is white. Interestingly enough, this police officer has served in the area for seven years and has never had even ONE complaint about being racist or treating black community members any differently than white community member. Had he been some horrible racist, I most certainly think the behavior would have been noted by community members and co-workers. However, this information does not seem to matter. To compare, the same week that this happened in Missouri, a young man (who was white), was shot and killed by an officer in Utah (who happens to be black). No public outcry, no riots, no looting, no public defenders screaming "injustice!", no assumptions that the officer was acting incorrectly or out of racism. Likewise, after George Zimmerman was acquitted after his trial last year, two black teens in Oklahoma were infuriated and went out to intentionally kill a white person. Sadly, they shot and killed an Australian student who was studying abroad. This was not covered by the media at all, even though it was a despicable and clearly a racially-motivated crime. The hypocrisy in our society today regarding race (and so much more) is so evident and it is wrong. We should all be held to the same standards and give the same respect to others, regardless of race.

5. Why I'm Actually Privileged...
I don't even know when the word "privilege" obtained a negative connotation, so I'm going to use this word in a positive way. I am privileged. I'm an optimist--I believe we are ALL privileged, meaning, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for (whether you live in a tribal hut, government housing, a tiny studio apartment in New York City/Los Angeles/Insert Large City Name Here with four roommates, or a beautiful two-story home)! I am privileged, but not because I am white.

I am privileged number one because I have a personal relationship with Jesus. My life will continue to be privileged, no matter what I encounter, because I have a God who designed me so specifically and intentionally and thinks I'm worth dying for! If that isn't enough to make someone feel privileged, blessed, etc, then I guess I understand why people might resort to bitterly blaming a whole group of people for being "privileged." Secondly, I am privileged because I have the most amazing support system in my husband, family, and friends. Everyone needs love and support, and this is essential to my belief that I am truly privileged. Beyond that, it's the little things that make me smile and appreciate my life--I see beautiful things like a sunset over the ocean or my husband's smile when he comes through the door, I hear the best sounds like my nephew giggling when being tickled by his daddy and mommy or rain hitting the roof, I taste amazing things like a whole pizza by myself in Rome or my newest baking adventure. I am privileged and blessed and I could cry with thankfulness (I often do!) at this beautiful life I have been given the opportunity to live.

I refuse to sit by and bitterly wish for things I do not have, make superficial judgments about others, and think people are bad for achieving success. Our lives are so short and temporary--live a privileged life by knowing Jesus, giving others the benefit of the doubt, working your butt off, and smiling! So "white privilege," I am not buying what you're selling--I choose joy and thankfulness instead! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

To Whom It May Concern

Hi friends, peers, etc:
I have been pretty vocal about my feelings about Azusa Pacific University, but the following is a letter that I wrote a few months ago intended for the President that I feel best summarizes the discrimination I feel I encountered at the school. I realize many of my peers had a great experience, one without prejudice and disappointment, and for that, I am truly happy for you! Unfortunately, I believe I just received bad luck with most of the "mentors," teachers, and other staff members I encountered. However, I am very thankful for the college education I have received, and for those few teachers I had that truly taught and lived with the motto of "God First." Thanks!

To Whom It May Concern:

The very first issue of our school paper in September 2013 presented an article of celebration that stated for the first time, Azusa Pacific University's freshmen class had a majority of minority students. I was confused as to why this was such news-breaking information--I wondered why it mattered what race or nationality any of we students were. APU says they support diversity because it reflects what Heaven will look like; however, I disagree. In Heaven, we won't see skin color and differences--we will see the most important similarity of all: a shared belief in our Savior.

Likewise, when I look at people on campus, I see them as unique individuals with distinct personalities--my view of people has NOTHING to do with their skin color. I have noticed the majority of people on campus promoting this increase in "diversity," that is, segmenting others based on their race or national origin, and saying this kind of segmenting of people is long overdue. In doing so, they are hurting and confusing those who happen to fall in what they perceive as the "majority." I have encountered this reverse racism throughout my four years at APU, starting with my freshmen year in my dorm. My RA required my hall to watch a video called "A Girl Like Me," in which black females are interviewed about the difficulties of being black. Afterwards, my RA asked my hall who felt bad for being white--every single person on my hall (about 30 total) raised their hands, with the exception of me and my good friend. I was shocked. I immediately thought to myself, "GOD MADE ME THIS WAY!" It occurred to me at that moment, that the dream Martin Luther King Jr. had spoken of decades ago has still not been accomplished--it has gone in the opposite direction. King said he had a dream that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

As I look around and think of the great friends I have made at APU, I think of how I view them, and it has nothing to do with their skin color. Unfortunately, the administration's obsession with obtaining more "diversity" creates a conflict with Christianity, as Jesus does not look at appearances. God looks at our hearts and our character. When Christian schools stop adapting to political pressures of society and stop trying to reach a "perfect number" of minority students, THEN our school will be trying to achieve what Heaven will look like: a place that does not look at the color of its students' skin and their appearances, but rather focuses on what Jesus looks at--the heart.

I recognize that this goal of "diversity" stems from the demands of leftist politics, something that has infiltrated every facet of most college campuses today. I witnessed the liberal political beliefs in most of my classes, from many of my teachers, and from the majority of my peers. Typically, this would not bother me, as I attended public schools my whole life and the majority of my extended family is liberal--I'm used to disagreeing with others when it comes to policy and politics. However, burying myself in debt to attend a theoretically Christian university to hear my teachers joke and talk about how Mitt Romney was awful during the 2012 presidential election during class and hearing peers say conservatives are evil because they don't believe homosexuals should be allowed to be married was truly troubling.

The administration’s decisions also clearly depict a more left-wing liberal institution than they represent to our supporters and our Board. This past semester (Spring 2014), APU decided to not allow Charles Murray to speak at chapel, even though it had been on the calendar for months--supposedly because he might offend black students because of things he has written. This is extremely concerning to me, especially because my graduation speaker for December 2013 was Susan Bonilla, an alumn of APU and a democratic assembly woman who supports abortion and gay marriage (among other things that I disagree with and that contradict the Bible). It was shocking to hear the president of the school, Jon Wallace, say that Bonilla stood for what APU stood for as he introduced her. Additionally, her beliefs were never addressed. I had researched her before my commencement took place to see which way she voted on important issues (like ALL college students should do). I was offended, but it confirmed what I had learned from the very beginning of my time at APU--regardless of the religion a university may claim, being politically correct is often more important than being biblically correct. I pray that the administration, the professors, and the students will truly be reminded of and encouraged to seek out what it means to support the motto of "God First."

Thank you,
Kaylee Hunter

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Love" is Not Enough

"Love" is not enough. 

I have been married for just over seven months. December 28th, 2013 was an amazing celebration of the beginning of my marriage. I felt so blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones who came to show their support for Josh and I. Marriage has been such a gift and growing experience so far. As a Christian, I believe (based on scripture) that marriage is a covenant created by God, which is the closest depiction of God's covenant with His people. Marriage has certainly been one of the best growing experiences for me in regards to my faith.

"Love" is not enough.

Romantic novels & movies, media, and society alike have been feeding people the lie that love between two people is all that is necessary to create and sustain a healthy marriage. Well, I'm calling it--BS!

"Love" is not enough. 

Love is not enough to last a lifetime of hardships, loss, scary unknowns, anger, fear, and any other thing that is certain to be encountered within marriage. Love is not enough because humans cannot give enough love to fill someone else's emptiness and needs. No, humans have a much bigger need and desire than what can be found from a single person (hence the high rate of divorce, society's belief that people need not get married anymore, or that having multiple sexual partners is great).

"Love" is not enough.

If love were enough to make a relationship last a lifetime, I would not have broken up with my first boyfriend. But, even after two years in a relationship with said boyfriend, I knew our fundamental differences in beliefs about God would leave me empty and always seeking for what I truly desired and needed--someone who would put God before me and who would want me to put God before them. Here's the truth: if your significant other is your savior, you're doing it wrong. They cannot save you--only Jesus can.

"Love" is not enough...but GOD'S love is more than enough.

I am human and so incredibly flawed. Without God, I'm sure my marriage would be 100x harder. But with God--I reconsider...I reconsider going to sleep angry about something insignifcant and instead, seek to resolve a conflict before sleeping on it. I reconsider seeking my own needs first and think about the needs of my husband as just as important as my own (if not more, depending on the situation). I reconsider my usual selfish nature to try to have a more selfless nature. I reconsider keeping my emotions inside, like was my typical reaction pre-marriage, and instead share my feelings with my husband.

Every single day is a learning experience in marriage. There are times when I let my husband down and when I disappoint him, when I know I could have shown more love and compassion. It is such times that I look to Christ and am reminded of His covenant made with me--how He always pursues me and never gives up on me. It is Christ's love for me that helps me to love my husband in the best way that I can. Having Christ's love in me helps me to forgive my husband and offer forgiveness when it would be easier to stay mad or complain. Knowing Christ's love for me helps me to remind my husband to turn to Jesus for true fulfillment.

I will never be able to give my husband 100% of what he needs because I am human and so is he. But Jesus' love is the best tool we have to help us love one another best. What is the biggest thing I have learned so far in these past seven months? My husband's love is not enough to sustain me; but God's love for us is more than enough to satisfy our needs and remind us how to best love one another.

God's love is more than enough.