Luther College Chips

Moving from conversation to action

Joshua Gonzalez (‘18), Just Action Columnist

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While I am certainly a member of Just Action, I must first state that what I write here does not represent the opinion of the group as a whole. Instead, it represents my thoughts and beliefs derived from a meaningful meeting of minds the group involves me in. These minds are dedicated to identifying, discussing, and resolving issues that negatively impact our humanity.

I am fortunate to work beside so many other people who are also passionate about restoring social justice and all that it encompasses. In spite of our devotion to this cause, the group is not perfect. Having attended a multitude of our meetings, I noticed one major limitation: the already existent ardency of all other attendants. In other words, Just Action comprises of the people who already attend the various opportunities for insight. While one may not necessarily see this as an issue, it reveals a palpable truth for Luther as a whole, and that is the lack of allies present at platforms where the plight of injustice is being met with persistence.

We must ask ourselves why this is the case. Why are more people not willing to prioritize the equity and inclusion of everyone? Clearly, the answer is not that they are all bigots. Especially in this contemporary era, even with the current Commander-in-Chief, society’s acceptance of the barbaric and overt racism from past periods has subsided. Unfortunately, racism does still exist today and significantly affects our campus and the people on it. 

When taking into account Luther and Decorah’s racial demographics, it is evident that the residents who make up this population receive little exposure to people of different colors and creeds. This lack of exposure limits people’s ability to appropriately and respectfully engage with people different from themselves.

Without an opportunity to develop these healthy discussions and interactions, people’s perceptions of others can become hindered by the media’s misleading stereotypes and the systematic structures set in place by white supremacist ideologies. Ignoring this internalized bias is not only inconsiderate; it creates a climate inimical to the health of those affected by the bias.

In order to cease this ignorance, we as a people must wake up and realize exactly what harms our actions can have. How do we do this? Attend events. Gather information. Really listen to the experiences of others. Empathize with those experiences. Ultimately, do not be afraid to be uncomfortable. Discomfort can easily deter the implementation of just actions from those who are already comfortable.

There have been far too many instances in which the people being affected by these conditions have demanded the rights they deserve but have been ignored. It is going to take a willingness on our part as members of the majority to wake up, push through the discomfort, and stay woke.

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied.” As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed this sentiment in a letter he wrote while imprisoned at the Birmingham Jail, his words present multiple parallels to these current conditions of Luther’s campus climate. Similar to King, there are students here who feel imprisoned in the institution responsible for providing them with a wholesome liberal arts education. Furthermore, they feel as though their voices are consistently being neglected.

Again, the concerns with Luther that these students, and others, bring to light are certainly being heard, but not listened to. The notable difference between being heard and listened to is the presence of commitment and care. Commitment for seeing the solutions through and care for the students, whose experiential reality at Luther should be regarded as expert testimony. Until these attributes are ingrained into the attitudes of administration, the negative impact of prejudice will prosper.

For too long, Luther has simply had conversations about ways we can better ourselves as a community. Yet, there appears to be a lack of initiative to act upon those conversations as an institution. Must we sit idly by waiting for something to happen? Must we ignore the issues that do not directly concern us? The answer is and will always be no.


Joshua Gonzalez (‘18)

Just Action Columnist

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