A few weeks ago, I began to see individuals on campus wearing shirts that read “Dignity for Black Lives.”
My initial reaction was to assume that this message was simply a cover for the broader organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM), but localized to appeal to the Taylor community.
I was wrong.
A recent panel, put on by Student Body President Emmanuel Terrell and Vice President Anna Craig, showed me why.
The values of BLM are, put bluntly, contentious with those values held by the Taylor foundational documents and system of campus belief.
Interim President Paige Cunningham, a member of the panel, spoke on specific values held by BLM, and the issues found therein. BLM values quoted by the president included gender reassignment surgery, decriminaliation of prostitution and free abortions.
“I don’t think we, here, are looking to affirm those values,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham, while disagreeing with the beliefs of BLM, was wearing a “Dignity for Black Lives” shirt.
While specific beliefs of the organization may cause individuals moral hesitation in showing support, that is not to say that there is no room left for all individuals to affirm the dignity that should be shown to Black lives.
Whether or not you choose to support the BLM organization, supporting universal dignity for Black lives is another conversation entirely. I, for one, do not support the BLM organization agenda, for reasons similar to those explained by Cunningham.
But that does not, in any way, mean that I think less of Black lives in America, or anywhere in the world.
“If something is getting in the way of you doing something good, say something else,” Terrell said.
Yes, the values of BLM hinder me from supporting the organization.
However, more importantly, Taylor’s Office of Intercultural Programming recognizes this dilemma. That is why Taylor supports “dignity for Black lives.”
We, as a campus, should affirm the struggles that our Black brothers and sisters have experienced, and are still experiencing. Our support for the dignity of Black lives is a way for me to show support, to extend a hand and to say “I am here to help” and that “I want to be a part of the solution.”
Similar to the sentiment shared by Terrell, I believe that truth is valuable above all else. The truth of the matter is that the organization BLM holds beliefs that I believe to be unbiblical.
But, at the same time, affirming the dignity and worth of Black lives locally, nationally and globally is one of the most biblical things I can do, especially given the status of American polarization.
“‘Dignity for Black lives’ speaks, and it doesn’t create the issues of this other message,” said Greg Dyson, vice president for intercultural leadership and church relations.
I couldn’t agree more.
“We are called to love before we are called to agree,” Terrell continued.
Given any context, specifically in terms of race relations, what is the most loving, Christ-like thing in which I can be involved?
For me, it is primarily loving the Lord my God, and upholding his commandments; secondly, it is loving my neighbor as myself. No, I do not agree with all values upheld by BLM. But, more importantly, I uphold, affirm and will stand behind the message “Dignity for Black Lives.”