Voices of change are here; listen to them

Summer Merkle | Cartoonist

“Diversity, inclusion. // Caring, Christian community.” How many times have we heard and read those words?

Diversity and inclusion have certainly been big issues talked about on campus lately, and for good reason. Black students have been discriminated against, most notably in the past few weeks at the incident at Moody Memorial Library, LGBTQ students are denied a permanent organization on campus and students who practice other religions than Christianity can’t lead their community.

Here at the Lariat, this editorial board isn’t allowed to endorse political candidates, but we can endorse these students who chose to come here and continue to stay despite the discrimination many of them face. They are the face and voice of change on this campus that was founded by a slaveholder and has been behind the times for a century and a half.

We can also endorse this poem by Veronica Bonifacio Penales, sophomore senator and president of College Democrats of Baylor. Originally presented at the Diversity Sit In on Feb. 3, Penales spoke on the difficulties Black, queer, women and minority members of the Baylor community face at this university and the path forward for all of us.

“Black privilege is found on pavement
—the cold hard ground that holds one’s breath
Better than the lungs do.
The way that Capital G, God
Isn’t even allowed to look like you.
But damn it if you’re the first one in line to meet him
When someone else makes the decision
That your time on this earth is through.

Queer privilege is being made to feel uncomfortable in shared living spaces.
Being forced to sit in the silence of your closet
while the people around you preach about your existence.
Queer privilege is knowing that on the grounds where the green and gold shine
You will never feel at home — sit down, it’s not yet your time.
Queer privilege is the holy matrimony that is only allowed in thirty seven states
And the liberation that your religion denies me.
Queer privilege is having to sit before your altar,
Trying so damn hard to pray the gay away.

Female privilege is being forced to swallow our protest
In exchange for his approval
Even after we’ve said no.
Female privilege is knowing that the sex between our thighs
means that we can’t walk outside
—past the setting of the sun.
Female privilege is knowing that a fire was born in our hearts
The first time a man told us to smile.
Female privilege is knowing that there is no seat at the table reserved for us,
But I’d be damned if he calls me and I quote ‘a f—ing b—-.’

Minority privilege is found in tokens and empty words like
Diversity, inclusion.
Caring, Christian community.
Minority privilege is no longer expecting resistance,
Just facing the absence
Because damn it despite our persistence
All we ever wanted was for YOU
to acknowledge our existence.

And I stand here before you,
a manifestation of the love that is lacking,
Voice shaking, hands sweating,
Praying, praying, praying
that there are ears who are listening.
To the next who come after me,
know this much is true
Students of the past, the present, the future,
The torch I hand to you.”

As a primarily white editorial board, we don’t want to speak over these minority voices. Learning to elevate minority voices as opposed to centering your own concerns and ideas is the first lesson you learn in Allyship 1301. However, we’d like to make it known that representation, equity, diversity and inclusion are ideals the Lariat editorial board is trying hard to implement. As we continue to work on this, we’d love to hear feedback and suggestions from our readers.

We’re also not going to sit here and give Baylor a passing or failing grade on every step they have or haven’t made when it comes to minority inclusion. We’ve done that before. We’re not going to do it today. The point of creating positive change is not to get a pat on the back for every good thing you do.

Instead, we’re just going to, once again, implore the Baylor administration, students, faculty and greater community to seek out these voices of change, not just in matters of diversity and inclusion, but in all matters at Baylor.

Students who are making a difference on this campus are not hard to find. They are making themselves known, they are being loud, and they are getting into good trouble. As they continue to push forward, this editorial board just wants to support the work they’re doing.

The community is ready to make change. Faculty Senate and Student Government have voted in support of chartering Gamma Alpha Upsilon on campus. Student athletes marched multiple times last semester asking for racial justice and equity. The desire for change is here. People who have the power to implement it just have to have the courage to do so.