Dialogue making a difference
The Young Women for America club on campus discusses race relations and looks ahead to other “Coffee and Conversation” events later in the semester
Members of Liberty University’s Young Women for America (YWA) club met at the Montview Student Center for an open discussion of current racial issues from a conservative, Christian perspective Tuesday, Feb. 7.
According to club President Savannah Barry, a senior majoring in politics and public policy and western legal tradition, YWA gives like-minded women the chance to develop their critical thinking skills on national issues.
Twice a month, 15 to 20 female students meet for “Coffee and Conversations” to explore current issues in depth.
Many of these topics fall under the club’s seven core issues — sanctity of human life, defense of family, education, religious liberty, national sovereignty, sexual exploitation and support for Israel.
“It’s a place for conservative Christian women to come and actually talk about these issues — especially in Liberty’s environment where a lot of things are very spiritualized,” Barry said.
“We tend to focus just on what Scripture says and not a lot on what that means in terms of practical application in the policy world.”
Kelsey Gold, a senior international relations student, led the discussion titled “Black, blue or all lives?” referring to the various hashtags that represent sides of the current racial tension in the United States.
Gold opened the discussion with the question, “Which hashtag would Jesus choose?” Students such as Gold believed that Jesus would not take a clear side on the issue but instead would care for those affected through his actions.
“I don’t think he would post anything,” Gold said.
“Each one of these three hashtags comes with the rhetoric from each side of the spectrum.”
However, Hannah Williams, a junior studying speech communications, believes that Jesus would be more likely to say black lives matter or blue lives matter.
“Jesus always loved on those that needed the love,” Williams said.
“So I would say it’s a toss-up for either one.”
The students then discussed their stance on the Black Lives Matter movement.
While most did not take a clear side on the issue, they emphasized listening to those that felt discrimination.
“My friends back home who have the hashtag black lives matter all over their social media see it as a real problem,” Victoria Poyer, a freshman studying international relations said.
“The people who are actually in the movement truly believe that there are issues.”
Gold also read parts of the Black Lives Matter website and urged the students to learn more about the movement.
“I would encourage all of you to read this because none of us in here are African-American,” Gold said.
“I think that’s something that would be really hard to understand and feel what these people are feeling.”
Barry contrasted the Black Lives Matter movement with the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s.
“With Martin Luther King, he proposed a solution for discrimination that was a lot more faith-based than a lot of things that you see now,” Barry said.
“It strictly veered away from violence, and it called on the faith leaders of the nation to step up and set an example of standing together in unison.”
The students then discussed their thoughts on the phrase “I don’t see color.”
Those who offered their opinions agreed that the phrase was not constructive in having conversations about racial issues.
Williams said Christians should be addressing racial issues rather than using phrases like “I don’t see color” or “All lives matter” to dismiss the issue.
“I think saying that is just an excuse to not address the issue,” Williams said.
“For me personally, I am 25 percent Native American. You wouldn’t think that’s a big deal, but I’ve gotten asked so many times what my ethnicity is. So I know people see color.”
Following this discussion, Kyle Griesinger, a politics and policy major, presented his view of racial tension.
Griesinger said he did not see evidence of institutional racism against African-Americans based on statistics he shared.
“According to a study done by John Lott and Carlisle Moody at the Crime Prevention Research Center, white officers are significantly less likely than black officers to kill black suspects,” Greisinger said. “How does that point to systemic racism?”
Griesinger described his own experience as the son of a police officer fearing for his father’s life.
“Ultimately at the end of the day, the one thing they want more than anything else is to go home, and that’s not a guarantee for them,” Griesinger said.
In addition to their regular “Coffee and Conversations” meetings, Barry said that the YWA works to support organizations such as the Bedford Pregnancy Center, Freedom 4/24 and American’s for Prosperity.
This semester, the YWA will be hosting a gala to raise money for the
Liberty Godparent Home.
Barry said YWA has given her and many other female Liberty students the opportunity to both discuss their beliefs in a safe environment and then practically apply them.
“We believe that change starts at home,” Barry said.
“As a college student, you have every reason and capability to be able to start working toward that change now.”
The YWA will be discussing education reform at their next meeting Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/YWALibertyU.