Several campus groups hold speaking event in wake of Chauvin conviction
By Chloe Salveson , multimedia show manager
Xavier students, faculty and staff congregated yesterday afternoon on the Academic Mall for Xavier Together, a community gathering to mourn the lives lost due to racial violence and promote justice.
Rev. Abby King-Kaiser, director of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice (CFJ), opened the event with a quote from Ben Crump, the lawyer of the Floyd: “Justice for Black America is justice for all of America.”
King-Kaiser mentioned that the shooting of Timothy Thomas that inspired the Cincinnati riots of 2001 which took place about five miles from Xavier’s campus.
She prompted the Xavier community to mourn and allow grief to fuel action towards the pursuit of social justice.
King-Kaiser acknowledged that “the road to change is long, difficult and winding” as “too many communities are traumatized.” She pointed to Xavier’s Jesuit values and the need for understanding.
Dr. Norm Townsel, teaching professor in the Department of Counseling, stressed that members of the Xavier community cannot afford to simply wait for good to overcome; rather, individuals must be actively involved in the struggle between good and evil.
“I believe that the students will be the ultimate force for change. Where they decide as a community to put their energies and will have lasting impact. I believe it is crucial that we organize young people to become politically engaged and to vote,” Townsel said.
Senior Isabella Serna, president of HOLA also spoke, about LatinX culture. Serna reflected on the importance of unity as she explained that students, faculty and staff alike must gather to honor the lives lost, amplify the voices that are not heard and come together with love and compassion to foster inclusion.
English professor Bethany Lam encouraged attendees to channel their pain and anger stirred by racial trauma into something good.
She shared a personal anecdote, which emphasized the recent spa shootings in Atlanta and the conversations cultivated in her classroom regarding Asian American hate crimes.
This resulted in a restorative healing that Lam believes highlighted the significance of grieving together.
Lam underlined that pain matters and should, in turn, elicit testifying, rallying, protesting and more in order to bring about change.
Student Government Association first-year Sen. David Reeves stressed the obligation to join as one voice to speak for those who have been silenced and stand together all for one and one for all. All humans, Reeves noted, deserve the right to life.
Reeves called for the community to strive to erase the line of segregation.
“It starts with every single person’s individual interactions every day, specifically how they get out of bed and how they decide to treat everyone. I think at this university, there is a large group of people who wake up every day wanting to use those Jesuit values of inclusion,” Reeves stated.
Senior Audrey Calloway offered a final reflection on finding strength in diversity, collaboration and solidarity.
In light of the Derek Chauvin verdict, Calloway noticed the small step towards justice and her moment of relief, along with the necessity of addressing the pain and the need for further action.
Tala Ali, the Muslim chaplain for the CFJ, closed with a prayer.
“I think (the community gathering) provided like-minded people an opportunity to come together and support one another in the difficult work of expanding justice and equity for all. We need each other,” Townsel added.