“If I listen, I can’t have a passive response.”
This statement was said by Monica Williams, a doctoral candidate and current LCU professor, at the “Why Listen” panel discussion on campus Jan. 21. To be honest with you, up until this point in the event, I don’t believe I was truly listening.
Growing up as a white man in Texas, I never understood the need to truly listen. I was raised to accept people for who they are and to love them no matter what they looked like. So why did this statement rock me to the core? Why all of a sudden did a lifetime of oblivious, nonchalant behavior come crashing down on top of me? Personally, I do not believe I was ready to accept my own negligence.
The event, put into layman’s terms, was to begin a discussion of race relations — or lack thereof — at LCU and why it is important for us to listen to our fellow man. There were three moments in this event that opened my mind to a conversation that needed to happen.
Moment #1: If I listen …
The first moment was Professor Williams’ declaration of “If I listen, I can’t have a passive response.” To truly have a relationship with anyone, we can’t have a stance of “I will let someone speak until it is my turn;” we must listen and comprehend their story and their heart and understand that they have a different perspective. And once we comprehend this, we must not just sit on this information but actively strive to become the change.
We must actively do our best to change the course of history for the better.
Moment #2: Be informed
The second statement that resonated with me is when panelist Milton Lee, president of the Lubbock Chapter of the NAACP, stated that, while we all have two ears and can hear, we sometimes just react to the facts presented to us. He challenged us to be informed and to make decisions for ourselves. If we allow ourselves to be ignorant to facts and continue down the path of only accepting our own perspective as hard truth, the conversation may have started but will turn into a never-ending argument.
Mr. Lee later described his life growing up. Having experienced segregated schools, white and “colored” water fountains, and other instances of segregation, one could make the argument that he was the most experienced panelist invited to this event.
Moment #3: Educated vs. Uneducated
The last statement that resonated with me was A.J. McCleod’s, youth camps director for the Lubbock YWCA. He clarified that it is no longer white/black but educated/uneducated. He said that in his experience this is where we see systemic racism. He referred to how in the 1920s African Americans were basically confined to certain areas of Lubbock and if now you look at a demographic map of the city, African Americans are still living in these same areas of Lubbock.
This event was an eye-opening experience to people of all cultures, creeds, races and ethnicities. The event highlighted the need for the conversation about racial equality and race relations. To experience the conversation for yourself, click the link below.