Unmasking Starts Change
Unmasking Starts Change
Quentin P. Kinnison, PhD, Associate Professor of Christian Ministry, Biblical & Religious Studies Chairperson
I study and teach Christian Ministry emphasizing leadership, particularly leadership for change in times of disruption and chaos. Our current moment is especially intriguing; political chaos, racialized disruption, and the role of Christian faith in all of it is astonishing. Oh, and a pandemic….
One mantra I have repeated since March 2020 is that the pandemic is not causing the difficulties we are seeing as much as it is revealing them. Financial, educational, racial & ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities where some work from home and others cannot, where children fed by the school systems because food wasn’t available at home now go hungry, where access to wi-fi and technology is limited by resources and home location–all of these are realities existing before March 2020 but have become more obvious to us since. Likewise, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, the protests supporting the value of Black life, others denouncing white supremacy and false Confederate myths, all of these reflect realities existing before March 2020, but have created greater awareness and recognition since.
Fresno Pacific University through “The FPU Idea,” identifies itself as “prophetic” in the midst of this chaos and disruption. Being prophetic is partly about how we unmask these realities in our words and work. Being prophetic is also about offering ourselves as an alternative vision to those realities. And part of offering ourselves as an alternative vision is being honest and admitting where we fall short of God’s vision of equity and inclusion in the Kingdom (Ephesians 2:8-22; Revelation 7:9).
I am continually impressed by our students. FPU students recently organized two clubs: the FPU Black Student Union and, for student athletes, the Athletes of Color Alliance. Both of these groups, along with the FPU Latinx Student Union, Asian Flavor and others, create spaces and opportunities for community for minoritized students and for educating the rest of us about the need for continued work in equity and inclusion.
I am grateful for colleagues Dr. Melanie Howard and Martha Fregoso who co-chair the University Diversity Committee working with other faculty, staff, and administrators to develop a comprehensive diversity plan for the university that hopefully leads us to being a more equitable and inclusive institution.
I am moved by coaches like CJ Haydock who provide leadership by listening to his players and following their lead to speak out in support of Black Lives Matter. Or by administrators like Dr. Valerie Rempel, VP and Dean of FPU’s Biblical Seminary, whose statement on the death of George Floyd was honest, introspective, and a profound acknowledgement of systemic racism and white supremacy, acknowledging our part in perpetuating these harmful and anti-Christ perspectives. These and others encourage me, and yet….
I am profoundly moved by how much more needs to be done. As an institution we struggle to hire and retain BIPOC faculty, staff, and administrators. Too many students remain unconvinced of our commitment to embrace their full experiences as BIPOC persons. In short, we still wrestle with how to more fully realized what Christian leaders like Howard Thurman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Caesar Chavez, and Delores Huerta describe as the “beloved community.”
There is work to do, good trouble to make, and love to realize. May we be equal to the moment, as chaotic and disruptive as it is; that is, after all, how change comes.