Resources to spark dialogue

By Rachel Barnett

On July 18, Charles Kinsey, an unarmed black man, was shot by police in FL as he tried to help a patient with autism.

On July 7, 2016, snipers killed 5 Dallas police officers and injured 7 during a ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest. 

On July 7, 2016, Philando Castile, a black man, was shot dead by police as he reached for his driver's license in St. Paul, MN.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a black man, was shot in Baton Rouge, LA following an altercation with two police officers.

How can we process or try and understand these tragedies?  Is our world becoming more violent, or are we just becoming more aware of the violence that has always surrounded us?  How has the history of race relations in the United States led to the issues we are seeing today?   Do our social, criminal, and justice systems favor some to the detriment of others?  How can we enact positive change amidst tragedy, spread love instead of hate, and unify rather than divide our nation, community, and campus?

President Eric F. Spina has called upon us to recommit ourselves to our Marianist values in the midst of tragedy and societal tension.  Our Marianist charism drives us to have faith that is thoughtful, active, growing, and engaging in both heart and mind.  Our mission asks of us to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to magnify the voices that are so rarely heard.  Our sense of community compels us to empower our brothers and sisters because respecting diversity and embracing equality leads to a stronger society. 

We must seek to put these tragedies into context if we want to try to better understand them and Roesch Library has a variety of resources to help.

If you are off campus but want to expand your understanding of these topics during your summer break then consider checking out some of our electronic resources.  Afraid of Dark is a documentary film available through Kanopy streaming that challenges black male stereotypes through candid interviews with black men.  What’s Race Got to Do With It? is a documentary film available through Kanopy streaming that discusses the barriers to bridging gaps as we try to create a more equitable and inclusive campus community.  The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice is a book that offers techniques to create open, intergroup dialogues to positively manage conflicts when they arise.  You can also access government documents like the 2015 final report of the President's Task Force to better understand our government's position on our police as well as learn more about community-oriented policing

On campus you can access our electronic as well as our physical collection.  If you want to step away from the screen then here are a few books you can check out direct from our collection.  Beyond Redistribution as well as America's Urban Crisis and the Advent of Color-Blind Politics discuss the history of race relations and its implications for social and criminal justice in the United States. Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America's Campuses provides a critical look at the prevalence of racism on college campuses.  If you are looking to create intergroup dialogue to discuss some of these subjects, then check out Dialogue Across Difference as well.

I am reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”  The choices that we make in the wake of these tragedies will define us.  The roles that we play on campus will define our community.  Let's set the example as educators and role models and create an environment that welcomes intergroup discussion on these crucial topics.  The library can help if you need resources.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to us during these trying times.

- Rachel Barnett, Evening Access Services Specialist

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