Embracing the Conversation: Diversity and Racial Reconciliation
| by Carol Best firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of an overall effort this year to acknowledge the need for understanding and building community, Difficult Conversations About Race, a virtual workshop, was held October 7. Workshop panelists were Rev. Bobby Love, pastor of Olathe’s Second Baptist Church and Dr. Anthony Moore (’85), assistant superintendent for Instructional Leadership, Raytown Quality Schools. Serving as moderator was the university’s coordinator of diversity & cultural competency, Dr. Victoria Haynes, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, professor of nursing. Haynes oversees MNU’s efforts to educate, inspire and promote positive action relating to race relations. The workshop was held to break the ice with conversations Haynes says are everyone’s moral duty to have, especially when we are from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
“This is what Christ has intended us to do,” Haynes says. “To ask ‘how are you doing, really?’ If you’re hurting, I want to help.”
The event was one of seven workshops that are scheduled this academic year. Several of the topics focus on racial reconciliation and, according to Haynes, provide opportunities to listen, learn, and grow as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Extending beyond these workshops, Haynes has developed a group of facilitators called Bridge Builders. These seven faculty and staff members lead small groups so that discussion can continue after the workshops.
Haynes says there are “tons of opportunities to engage this year.” Some of the other enrichment events include:
- A Race & Faith Growing Chapel each semester followed by a six-week small group study. These intimate gatherings provide opportunities to continue conversations on racial reconciliation and building community.
- Leadership Luncheons for emerging student leaders to learn from and engage with diverse speakers from surrounding communities.
- The monthly Multicultural Trivia event is held at lunchtime in the Campus Center. While offering a lighthearted way to learn more about diverse cultural groups, students can also earn prizes. Everyone wins when other cultures become more familiar to all.
- An African American Read In, honoring Black History month, in collaboration with Mabee Library and Olathe Public Library. For more info https://ncte.org/get-involved/african-american-read-in/
- MLK Week Events celebrate leadership from the Black community to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2021 MNU will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration honoring Dr. Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of Topeka Public Schools and presenting the university’s MLK Leader Scholars.
Haynes has a large group of Pioneers helping her. The Diversity Advisory Council (DAC), comprised of 19 faculty and staff, provides leadership and empowers students, staff and faculty to embrace cultural differences. While the Student Diversity Council (SDC) gives voice to student perspectives, plans events and spearheads service in the community.
“After four years doing this work, I believe there is a lot of knowledge at MNU about race and culture. This year we are focusing on next steps,” Haynes adds.