Today many SEMO students, faculty and staff marched in the Honecoming parade with members of our SEMO family who identify as LGBTQ. While I can't speak for others' reasons for deciding to march, I can say that I chose to do so as a way of showing my friends, colleagues and students that I love them and support them for who they are. But there was another reason. Last year there were incidents of hate against not only our LGBTQ community but also against members of our international community. We have heard of other incidents of hate that are more recent.
Hate comes from many sources but it primarily comes from a place of ignorance. As an educator I feel I have somehow sworn an oath to combat ignorance. I try to show in a peaceful way that I won't tolerate that behavior in my space, that I don't hate the person who did it but it is upon me to take a stand against it.
I have the good fortune to be surrounded by people both on and off campus who in their own ways are putting this into practice. I think of Edie Bird at Christ Episcopal who is at almost every SNAP Tuesday prayer at a spot where someone has been murdered, and her church's openness to serve as a safe space to all members of the community as a place to meet. I think of Renita Green from St. James AME who leads our community conversations at Cup n Cork on Tuesday nights as we openly discuss what is racism and how we can become anti racist, as well as her actions against injustice in our community. I think of Rania Majed from the Islamic Center who is so instrumental in our interfaith efforts and promotes unity and understanding in many aspects of our community. I think of Tamara Zellars-Buck and her guidance in the Arrow's decision to openly discuss challenging issues that our community faces. I think of Brooke Hildebrand-Clubbs who acts both on campus and in the community to make our place a healthier, happier and more just place to live. I think of Dulce Maldonado Muñoz, mi hija adoptiva, who has a light that shines for everyone, who is always willing to help educate those around her with sincere patience about the Latino community. I think of Sonia Rucker who has listened and acted to support all of us as we work to make our campus a more inclusive space for all. I think of Diane Wood who has always strived to stand for what is right, not for what is easy.
These women remind me on a daily basis that none of us is alone. They are always there as examples of what it means to be strong in love but also strong in principle. I think each person who marched today was saying in their own way that hate has no home here. That is a wonderful message that is befitting of Honecoming and I was so proud to be a SEMO alum and faculty member. In the words of Maya Angelou, "We are more alike, my friend, than we are unlike."