Photo by Matthew Claybrook
Usually, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meetings consist of worship, games and a speaker. On April 4, InterVarsity members explored the connection between race, ethnicity and religion with an event called “Is God Colorblind?” held in the Coates Student Center’s Waxahachie Room. About 35 students attended.
“As an African American and also as a Christian, I hear a lot of Christians say, ‘We should just be colorblind’ or ‘race doesn’t matter’ or that that’s just something to ignore. But as someone who has a cultural background, as we all do, I found that a little offensive. So that made me want to explore things like, was Jesus colorblind? Did he say that we just need to ignore race? What’s his opinion on this?” said Lee Davenport, junior and president of InterVarsity.
Students, along with one InterVarsity campus staff minister, told personal stories about triumphs, tribulations and discovery all in the vein of their race or ethnicity and the realization that God celebrates differences.
“For a long time, I rejected kind of all cultural association [in religion],” said junior Juan Kamel, vice president of the Catholic Student Group and the first speaker of the night. “I thought that having two different backgrounds meant that I didn’t belong to either one. Recently I’ve been able to realize that God uses these situations, at least for me anyway, to help me realize that this was a good way for me to try to bring both of them together.”
After hearing some of the stories, everyone broke into small groups to discuss personal experiences and reflect on the ideas the speakers’ stories brought up. This included the journey to their ethnic identity, racial discrimination and ways that their cultural identity has helped them help others. They were cautioned against using generalizing and offensive language.
“Avoid using the colorblind mentality. If you think it might be an offensive or insensitive term, don’t use it,” Davenport said. “As always, seek to have a posture of learning.”
Senior Savannah Schatte has been involved with InterVarsity for four years. She explained that her involvement with the group has consistently exposed her to different cultures and backgrounds.
“Up until getting involved with InterVarsity, I hadn’t had these conversations. I grew up pretty safely in my majority culture, but I think it’s been such a blessing to come to a place like Trinity, get involved with something like InterVarsity and get to be surrounded by people who come from all different backgrounds and are so confident in that,” Schatte said. “People not only get to be strong and embrace their culture, ethnicity and their race but get to love God and love other people through that.”
Davenport was the last speaker at the meeting. Similarly to Schatte, he states that although InterVarsity isn’t always structuring its meetings like this, there is constant discussion and sharing about people’s backgrounds and experiences.
“[InterVarsity’s] mission is to be very inclusive and to want to explore each other’s different cultural backgrounds, racial backgrounds and even academic backgrounds. Diversity isn’t just the color of your skin, it’s the totality of who you are. At InterVarsity, we want to be able to explore that as much as we can because we believe that Jesus created us with those specific things for a reason and for good,” Davenport said.
| Class of 2021 | Majors: Urban Studies |