Southern Hospitality 

On Friday, February 27, 2016, I was the guest speaker at Southern University for their Black Christian Union vesper service. While I was preaching about unity to the student body, a different message was being heralded on campus via social media. Several students on Yik Yak – an anonymous local feed for posting ideas and having conversations – were posting insensitive and racist statements.  

 
  
 I, of course, knew nothing of this until I looked at my phone after the service, and was greeted with screenshots of the conversations and tweets of consolation and support. Later that evening as I got back to my room, it hit me. 

In 2016, on a Seventh-day Adventist campus, there are 18- to 22-year-olds who see my people as “banana eating monkeys”; who, in worship, can refer to black people as “slave labor”; and who see me as a “nigglet”. The thing is, because racism is inherited, not inherent, these kids most likely learned it from their Bible-believing, truth-bearing, Sabbath School attending, “good” Adventist parents.

  
The Seventh-day Adventist church has a racism problem. It’s not a race problem – the idea of diversity and race isn’t problematic at all. However, throughout our church’s history, racism has consistently reared its ugly head. The most stirring thought from this weekend for me was the realization that I don’t know who is sitting next to me when I’m in church. In the same sanctuary where I am praising God, there could be people right next to me who see me as “less than”. It’s sobering to me that my children could attend a General Conference session or academy with someone whose parents use the word “nigger” at home.

Racism doesn’t just simply cause us to have regional conferences and white conferences. Racism leads to death. It is an insidious evil that can cause someone to walk into church during prayer meeting and kill nine black gatherers simply because of the color of their skin. Maybe he saw them as “nigglets”. The same evil that leads to hate crimes and lynching is the same evil that sits in our pews every Sabbath morning, or even, God forbid, in our boardrooms.

We must start a serious, proactive conversation on how we can work toward eradicating racism in our church. It will be difficult and painful. It will require honesty and humility. But it is time. If we don’t, it’s possible that 25 years from now, if my son is invited to speak at the Adventist university in Collegedale, Tennessee, he will receive the same “Southern hospitality” that greeted his father.

By: Corey Johnson

Twitter: @coreymaurice

119 thoughts on “Southern Hospitality 

  1. I really hope it is understood that the words of a few don’t speak out for southern. Especially on a anonymous forum. People are always on there trying to cause problems to see what kind of reactions they can get. Demonizing southern as a whole is so far from right. Maybe the first step is to stop segregating our conferences and unions. While racism is inherited, that does not imply inheritance from ‘good’ Adventist parents. That’s a poor assumption if you ask me. Parents have less influence on their kids now than ever before with all the time they spend with media outlets etc.

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    1. Perhaps rather than trying to explain or justify, listen, empathize and seek to understand… I know his sentiments are difficult to hear and accept. I get it and I’m sorry that you are hurt by the seeming generalization, but this is really not about you right now… It’s about him and it’s about the black students on your campus who may now feel like their hearts have been ripped out of their chests and trampled on. So please…in this dfficult conversation we are having, know that your role is to listen and to seek understanding, not to justify.

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      1. Samantha, no one is trying to justify. What we are trying to do is to let Corey know, and our black students know, that not only are these Yik Yak posts not acceptable, but that the majority of the campus does not espouse them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Samantha, It’s about everyone. It’s about having open dialogue. It’s about having common sense. It’s a very valid point that Daniel raises. I don’t accept your shut up and don’t give me your opinion stance.

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    2. Racism as a system of hate cannot be addressed until generally speaking, white America admits there is a problem and begins doing something about it.

      African Americans have always been on the front lines addressing this very serious issue….and when we (SDA’s) get through praying about a solution that has already been addressed by the word, why don’t those that continue to create the problem of racism take the first steps in doing something about it.

      And joining conferences isn’t really the answer!

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      1. I grew up with real racism in the 1940’s. It was a way of life. From the days of Slavery, life in America had improved ten fold under the tutelage (and suffering) of King, Tubman, Parks and countless others. I saw the blight nearly disappear (there will always be some in society)

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      2. I agree with your idea that white people need to work toward creating a racist free society, but I’m not stopping there. The only solution for our society to become racist-free is by all people, regardless of race, working together. It isn’t blacks versus whites, or Hispanics versus Asians. We need to work TOGETHER. I need to treat my white friends with love and respect. My white friends need to treat their Hispanic friends with love and respect. We all need to work toward solving this giant problem.

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      3. David Lee, your insinuation that black America doesn’t have racist elements which need to be addressed is disingenuous. White racists are rightly called out all the time, Black racists, however are ignored and coddled. As long as you point fingers, you’ll get nowhere. Racism is racism, regardless of skin color.

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    3. Daniel you need to know your church history. African Americans NEVER wanted Regional Conferences. It was the leadership of the GC that created them in 1944 because they didn’t think integration would work. In other words, the church didn’t have the faith or strength to stand for what was right based on the word of God. Instead they followed the rest of the country and created what is probably now the most segregated church denomination in the world. Some research would do you and your peers some good. The sad thing is that here we are in 2016 and it’s the same situation. The leadership still does not have the guts to do different. Now it seem as if its all about self-preservation for the leadership. No wonder the membership is shrinking in the US. The great comfort is knowing that when our Great God comes back He is coming back for a united people not some denomination.

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    4. Where does the writer demonize the whole university? He doesn’t. He specifically says “several students” were posting the comments. Even if only a few perpetuate it, racism is a cancer with far-reaching implications and that’s the point. And it exists in the SDA church whether people hide it or show it.

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  2. I’m truly at a loss for words and have been for the past year & a half… My child is a student at one of the State Conference Adventist Academy, where she’s the only Black student in attendance. There’s no other Adventist school within 2 1/2 hours of our home. It’s scary to even consider a public school in this area (4% Black population). What are some suggestions on making sure that my child receives fair treatment without the constant “playing the Race Card” stigma?

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    1. Play the constant race card. It doesn’t do us any justice to be quiet for fear of being accused as a “race baiter.” It’s Tactic racists use to hide their racism.

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      1. So are we going to be playing the race card in Heaven? No, we are not! We are going to be living right next to each other, and if we can’t figure out how to let God love through us on this earth, how can we expect to be happy in Heaven?

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    2. There is nothing you can do, literally or-God forbid something terrible happens-legally.
      Close friends, who are black and very faithful Adventists-found out the hard way. They have never used race card. They believed doing right and being part of Adventist enclave in So Cal was enough for people to see fairness and their kids to experience equity. Their eldest son was unfairly treated by students, by a teacher, and then by coaches. Both of their sons were often called “nigger” while in the sweet well-known middle school and high school academy.
      I asked my son whether this could be possible (it was 2014 about 50 Tata stove Jim Crowe). He said that black kids get called nigger every day, jokingly. They are told jokes about watermelons, swimming, joblessness, and having no fathers.
      I was astonished. I had to assess whether I should allow my kids to continue to go there. I was ashamed that I had naively raised my sons in such a way that they thought that behavior and treatment toward black brethren was pedestrian and mundane.

      Our friends tried to get help from administration, but they hardly took interest in the matter. At one point, an administrator openly mused that “Why is it so offensive, when your people say it to reach other?”

      They sought counsel and learned private religious institutions are shielded from legal action if they are 100% privately funded. So that was that. The NAACP tried to encourage them to do a civil suit and public shame campaign, but my friends did not want any part of that.

      Long story short: that family, still reeling a bit, is hardly Adventist. They are not bitter, but they openly castigate themselves for putting such trust in the Adventist schools for so long that they subjected their boys to the kind of primitive abuse we relegate to history chapters on civil rights.

      I removed all three of my kids from their schools soon after.

      Yes, it happens to this day. The precious children in our Adventist schools understand that there is a tiered system of value among them. You cannot be Christian and participate in this anti-Galatians manner. And to know this and enjoy the warmth of that prejudice is to participate.

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      1. I think I know the family you are talking about, and the school. Are they now attending school in Corona, CA? That whole situation is so SAD to me and has me wondering if I should bother with ever transferring my son (who is in public school now) over to an SDA academy. My husband and I are both graduates from the same SDA academy in Nor Cal. We experienced racism in the 80s and 90s but I sure expect things to be different by the time my kids are high school age! Apparently we (as a denomination/school system) have some work to do.

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    3. 4% black? You’re good. White people indulge in “magic negro” thinking when blacks are a small percentage. It’s only when blacks make up a sizable percentage that whites are disabused of the quaint notion of equality

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  3. Very well said! This is from a 60 year old that is a third generation SDA, and am raising the fourth and fifth generation in the SDA faith. This is a sad commentary of conditions in the church that claims to have a truth, that is to be taught to every nation and is waiting on Christ return. Sadly this is the true feeling of many SDA, and this is still being taught in the homes of our deacons, pathfinder leaders, pastors and even our conference officials. This attitude will continue to delay the retuning of Christ! And should not be yolerayed. Southern should take a stronger stance on this matter.

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      1. Racism and discrimination is what we saw in the General Conference in San Antonio , Texas 2015 when Ted Wilson support to ban women from ordination as pastor and influenced for Dr Baker, the only afro-american GC vicepresident, to be out of the GC offices for good.

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  4. This is exactly why we should not send our African American children to these white institutions. Expecially seventh-day Adventist institutions. It is sad to say that the church will not stand up and denounce this behavior. They need to attend our own HBCUs.

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    1. “Our own?” Are we building segregation ourselves now? Why are we constantly referring to each other as black and white? Why can we not “turn the other cheek,” as Jesus said, step out in love and call one another brother and sister?

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      1. We’re always the ones turning the other cheek. At what point do we hold the persons doing the slapping accountable food their actions?

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    2. These “white” institutions???you know how many asians and latinos are there? You sound like the racist here lol. Just like when the actions of a few (rioters in ferguson, and baltimore) dont represent all blacks, why would you think 5 comments from trollers would represent all whites at southern? Sounds like a double standard here.

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      1. It’s not a double standard. I live in the NE and there is just as much racism in our SNEC youth department that is run by the Hispanics as there is at SAU and GCA. It is really bad.

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      2. I second the SNEC comment. That conference is impressive in its racism. I don’t know if anyone can get a job in that conference without being Hispanic any more

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    3. These “white” institutions???you know how many asians and latinos are there? You sound like the racist here lol. Just like when the actions of a few (rioters in ferguson, and baltimore) dont represent all blacks, why would you think 5 comments from trollers would represent all whites at southern? Sounds like a double standard here.

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    4. Bobbi, As a young Adventist aspiring Physician in the mid-1970’s I had absolutely no money for college or Medical School. I wanted to attend an Adventist College but what God provided for me were scholarships at public Universities. At the time, I did not understand why I had to go to a non-Adventist undergrad and a non-Adventist Medical School but when I decided to go to Loma Linda University for my internship it quickly became clear. I can say I have never experienced racism at the level that they dish it out in our own institutions. I truly believe God knew I would never have survived at one of our institutions so He closed that door. The constant beat-down would have been too much. I just praise Him for providing exactly what we need even when we don’t understand.

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    5. Did you really just say segregation was the answer? Really? That is never the answer, and to hold this belief is to work backwards and undo 60 years of work done by people who fought against segregation.

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    6. The University has spoken out against whoever was ignorant enough to post such rubbish. To call SAU a white institution is offensive, when is reality it houses a very diverse population. They are taking this very seriously. The idea of keeping your children away from the institution only furthers the segregation problems we are fighting against. I live in the Southern community and the campus as a whole is very accepting of all of Gods children. Let’s not bad talk the University, let’s be accountable for our own actions and those of our children. Teach our own how to treat everyone with respect and love!

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    7. I sadly do not agree with you at all. So do you mean to tell me in the sight of racism we run? As a black African American female I did not want to go to an HBCU because I do not believe that people sacrificed their lives and even their family’s lives for desegregation and you are just going to run? My parents as blacks and SDA parents taught me everyday to operate in love for all (even for the ones who hate me) and believe that Jesus will look out for me anywhere I go. I have nothing against HBCU but I won’t go their out of fear and I hope you wouldn’t do that to your child. I can tell you right now once that when a HBCU student graduates they will be working in a predominately white world and college is the best way to learn how to deal with those issues in the proper manner…Me and my husband both went to predominately white schools and are very successful and both alive and well. Let’s not teach our children to run and hide but to stand up and fight for what is right and for what many of your ancestors died for.

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      1. Attending an HBCU for a Black American is not about running and hiding. It is about experiencing the richness of your culture, learning your history, being around other students who look just like you and who are defying all of the stereotypes and achievement gap issues that surround students of color in the real world. Other schools are looking at HBCUs and trying to find out what they are doing right that they need to learn to do. I know this because I teach at a community college (public) that is doing just that! One of my colleagues is going on sabbatical to research HBCUs and to determine how they manage to have enrollment, retention and success rates in the 90th percentile when public colleges in our state (California) struggle to reach the 20th percentile for African American students. HBCUs are very positive, culturally enriching and personally empowering. Graduates from HBCUs do not struggle to adjust to “real life” in a diverse world. Let’s be real! Blacks aren’t even 20% of the entire U.S. population. Most of us do not come from predominantly Black environments which would cause us to struggle to relate to other races. I experienced 2 years at a PWI and one year at an HBCU and 1 year studying abroad. I wouldn’t change my rich and diverse college experience but I have nothing but positive things to say about my HBCU experience and I actually hope that my children will attend Oakwood and graduate from there.

        And as for what our ancestors died for…one thing I do know is they DID NOT die for us to forget or reject our history or our culture. I’m not saying that you have done that, and as you’ve said, you went to PWIs and have turned out fine and I can’t negate that. But I don’t think you should put down other people’s choice to support HBCUs or say that they are advocating for “running and hiding.”

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    8. Part of the problem is the way blacks choose to identify- instead of being part of SAU, they form a “Black Student Union” and have vespers that are very non-traditional. I realize that this is probably blaming the victim and is in no way a justification of the absurd racist comments that were exhibited by the students. Imagine if the situation were reversed. If at a predominantly black university, white students got together into a “white student union” and had “white student union” vespers. The whole point is that this isn’t even the way we should be using these labels, and when we do, we shouldn’t be surprised that there is some racist blowback the other direction. The problem here is also the larger problem with Adventism- in not recognizing the salvation by the Grace of God, but rather by insisting that mankind is somehow involved in his own salvation by keeping a certain day or eating a certain food. This is nonsense that breeds this kind of rebellious behavior. It is also contrary to the Gospel: We are saved by the grace of God, period, end of story. This is the good news.

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      1. Samuel, the fact that you recognize this as victim blaming meant that you considered what you said… knew that it was wrong but thought that you should say it anyway…which, if you ask me, is a little less than the Christian Grace you talk about…

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      2. Non-traditional? That statement alone explains why they have a separate worship service. Any form of worship unlike the majority or unlike your own is considered “non-traditional”. Why can’t different cultures and traditions be celebrated instead of students being forced to worship in a way that is deemed “traditional”.

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      3. Take a look at walla walla university. Their Black Student organization enlists support of faculty and staff and offer a rich diverse worship experience. Non-traditional offers the opportunity to grow in areas of discomfort and prep for real world experiences

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      4. Samuel, What is non-tradional vesper service? Non-traditional for who? Have these black students been invited to participate in the “Traditional Service?” Can both services combine and alternate music styles. Sometimes singing hymns and contemporary songs, and other times singing gospel songs. What if they had a combined service with special music from a flutist, the next service they invite a Carribean Steel Drums Band. Would that work on your campus? Probably not. It seems as if the “Traditinal Service” leaders are unwilling to compromise when it comes to worship style; therefore, the black students are shoved into a corner somewhere to praise God in the way David said we should. When you say tradional, who’s tradition? And what makes that one superior to everyone else’s tradition. If you have a diverse campus, and appreciate everyone’s culture, wouldn’t blending worship styles be the Christ like thing to do. When we say one cultures tradition is superior than the next, you force those that don’t praise God in the same way that you do to find an alternative because you are unwilling to compromise. Then you say that they are separating themselves. No you forced them out. You basically said my way or the highway. This is how the Regional Conferences Started. The Unions did not want to make any compromises. It had to be done the ” traditional” way, and if not they could start their own conferences. This is the same way all minority organizations, schools, magazines etc. are started. Blacks never wanted segregation. They always wanted to be treated equal; however some of our white brethren didn’t feel the same way. That is how Historically Black Colleges got started. Oakwood College is about 2 hours away from Southern. Don’t you think that Black students would have applied there if they would have been excepted. Why have the Black Student Union? Maybe because they feel their voices are being lost among the traditional students, so they have to advocate for themselves. Look around you. Anything that you see black, was created because whites wouldn’t give us a chance. They wouldn’t put us on the front cover of magazines, thus Ebony, Jet, Essence etc. was created. They wouldn’t dare nominate a black Miss America, therefore we had to start are own parents. You seem like a very genuine person. I challenge you to study Black History in America. I also challenge you to study the history of racism in the Adventist Church. Inhave friends who attended a white Adventist church. They decided to join; however the church board voted against their membership. This wasn’t in slavery times and it didn’t happen in the south. We have to get this right. If we cannot love and embrace each other here on earth, how will we do it in heaven? Their is no superior race; however when we are forced to conform to one specific one. It sends a loud message that you are not welcome here.
        Respectfully,
        Dawn

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    9. I’m disappointed to see the esteemed speaker of the vespers that “lit southern on fire” is posting an article after the fact mostly fueling the fire. I am not racist, but I speek for many white Americans when I say that we are as sick of racism as anyone offended by the yik-yak incident.
      The things said do come from an ignorant place, they come from disregard and zero consideration for another person’s feelings. But for this speaker to say that:
      “The thing is, because racism is inherited, not inherent, these kids most likely learned it from their Bible-believing, truth-bearing, Sabbath School attending, “good” Adventist parents”
      is just as ignorant as the comments themselves. As a 24 year old senior, it has been a sad reality to watch society digress since my childhood. A parent can teach and be the perfect model of equal rights and love for all human life but between social media, and modern entertainment, a child stands little chance of avoiding racial bias to one degree or another.
      I stated earlier that I am a 24-year old while student at SAU. I have never been racist. But over the last year I have personally been discriminated against more than I have seen anyone of another race. White people are automatically considered racist, guilty before proven innocent by the majority of African Americans on campus. Statements such as “stupid white boy” “dumb ass white kid” and “entitled white prick” are just a few. But if I was to speak out, who would listen? If I was to get 10 of my friends who have experienced the same discrimination as I have to sit in a common area in protest of this, WE would be considered the racists for feeling uncomfortable by those comments and cause backlash of racism claims of another race. The fact that this has caused such a response from not only this speaker but by the University and other leaders in the community is doing nothing but stirring up the racial tension that is supposedly wanting to be avoided.. shameful.
      This is not the first time there has been discrimination of this level on the yik-yak app. I’ve viewed many yaks of people calling out profedssors, speakers and other students for things such as looking weird or ugly, being fat, not dressing well, studdering, having a disability.. the list goes on. The above insults all vibrantly worded and descriptive causing every bit of hurt and disgust as the posts at this vespers. Why was there just now a response, why is black on white “hate” the only thing that causes a response from the community? Because it’s being looked for. As a white student it’s like being attacked every day, under a microscope to always be open and make special considerations for other races, all while enduring relentless hatred ourselves. Why isn’t it about being open accepting and loving to everyone instead of making it about black vs white. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being treated as a racist because of my skin color. How does posting this article solve any problems Mr. Johnson? I’m sincerely apologize for the comments of the ignorant, but spreading the fear for your son’s future, and restating the hateful things is fueling the fire you so publicly claim to wish to extunguish. Also Mr. Johnson, the comment about white “racist” parents as though we are Black-hating inbreds is just every bit as insulting and “racist” as the comments posted at your talk.
      Thank you for your great vespers messgae. But you will not receive thanks for heightening the racial tensions at my University, especially with this article.
      Racism isn’t inherent; you’re right.
      But it is taught, experienced and heightened by incidents like this, so thank you, but no thank you.

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      1. “why is black on white “hate” the only thing that causes a response from the community?”
        because black people are still being killed for being black

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  5. No no no, don’t you see? Racism goes both ways. Someone has to be the bigger person, to step out and say, Okay, I’m going to be friendly to people, whatever the color of their skin. If we segregate out kids for fear of them facing racial prejudice we fall into the mold. See, the problem is we keep looking at each other, keep acting and reacting to eah othet. We’ve got to be looking at Jesus! We’ve got to be filled with His love for others, no matter the color or their skin, their language, their home country. THAT’S the real issue here.

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    1. I think you mean prejudice goes both ways… Racism cannot and will never be directed towards the majority… It’s far deeper than disliking someone’s skin…or stereotypes.

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      1. racism
        noun rac·ism \ˈrā-ˌsi-zəm also -ˌshi-\
        : poor treatment of or violence against people because of their race
        : the belief that some races of people are better than others

        Look it up in any well-known and accepted dictionary. Racism comes from ANY race. Now, people with white skin in a white dominated area may have better opportunities, but I assure you, that when they live in a black dominated area, they do not. Augusta, GA for example. Predominately black area, whites, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, etc make a tiny percentage who were also mistreated. You will not fit in if you are not black. It takes time, and sometimes the racism never stops. Racism is global, and it needs to be confronted on a united front. Saying the the majority cannot be attacked with racism is a lie and is more dangerous.

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  6. Thank you Corey for this open letter. I’m the pastor of a church that is on a diverse Seventh-day Adventist college campus. And while it’s true that an institution shouldn’t be trashed for the behavior of a few, it is also true that racism is an evil thread that exists through this church and needs to be better addressed. To call (as some did in their responses to your letter) for an end to a separation of black and white conferences is to not understand the problem. I’m glad Southern came out with a response that addresses this issue. But we need to start addressing this as a church. Preaching about racism and scapegoating. Creating a place so full of Christ’s love that racism will have to flee and never come back. Thank you again for your letter. And God bless you as you use your gifts to make this world, this country and this church better than it is.

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  7. No human is leaving this earth hating, ridiculing or having “issues” with other people… Especially in regards to race. If you haven’t worked it out before you die, your whole religious existence is in vain….
    You’re going straight to hell and there are no “ifs, ands or buts” about it. You will be lost. I’m 51 years old and every white SDA institution I’ve ever set foot in has been riddled with the very same racist, evil cruel ideals expressed during this meeting. The older I get the more I understand “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth… Those are the people who called themselves “Christians” and claimed to follow Christ while at the very same time referring to other human beings as “monkey” or “nigger” or even worse, thinking they’re somehow superior.
    Here’s a little something to consider…
    “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
    ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭12:36-37‬ ‭KJV‬‬

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  8. To say that this is the actions of a few, without examining the climate in which this occurred and the historical intolerance that this university engaged in during times past is short-sighted and ignores the issue of systemic racism that seems to be unacknowledged on this campus. Too often, issues like this are segregated to the specific circumstances. This is a product of the campus culture – whether overt or not.

    Silence when micro-agressive behavior occurs in class towards student of color, when insensitive jokes are made in the gym or in the cafeteria, or during social events or religious services, have all contributed to these anonymous and cowardly students who posted – believing they have the right to say these hateful and racist things and that it would be accepted by the larger community. Their attitude has been supported through in-action, and silent acceptance. Maybe the acceptance is not overt, but covert assent is still agreement.

    If people want to believe that this is an “isolated” incident that is not connected to an on-going issue of white privilege and lack of sensitivity; that the majority cultural perspective on campus is not the only perspective – and that other perspectives and worldviews are equally valid and significant and should be not only embraced but supported, included and celebrated; well then those people are part of the support system that has fostered this kind of unchristian and racist behavior.

    As Christians we must seek to eradicate injustice. Not merely blatant forms of it, but the subtle, underground, “I didn’t realize I was doing that” form of microagressions that people of color experience daily. To think that this type of behavior doesn’t occur on the regular at Southern is naive and a disservice to all who are part of the campus body. We must be willing to look clearly at both what has been done and how the “silent majority” contributed to this eruption of hatred.

    Southern is in my prayers. Those students who made these horrible statements are in my prayers. The leadership is in my prayers. My hope is that a good hard look at how the climate supports this type of blatant and open hatred, will be examined. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above what we ask or think. I pray Southern University leadership will focus on how they can address this spiritual issue in a manner that isn’t just lip service or short-sighted. But sincerely examines how the environment and campus culture has created this incident, to move towards real and sustainable change.

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  9. This is so sad. Some say we should stop separating our conferences, churches, programs, and our schools. If only it was that simple. Racism is a behavior that is picked up from many sources and generally starts in the home. Our children observe us and emulate the things that we do. We need to be conscious of what we do, and say.
    We need to face the fact that our religious beliefs don’t protect us from racism.

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  10. Just adding to an earlier comment about HBCUs. What people seem to forget/don’t want to remember is that HBCUs were never segregated and that anyone of any culture who wanted to/wants to attend is free to attend. HBCUs were started as a result/response to white institutions not allowing people of color (not just blacks) on a whole to attend. It’s just that many whites and many other non black people of color choose not to attend HBCUs because of their perceived lack of quality and a host of other reasons some valid and some not. BUT In a culture that has done nothing and continues to do nothing (as a whole, I realized there are exceptions to this, but they are not the norm, especially in the SDA church) to help people of color how do you expect HBCUs to thrive and excel more than they already are? I could say more, but realize this is not the time nor the space to do so.

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  11. “They shout Amens, and ‘Praise the Lord,”Glory to God,’ just like a Salvation Army service. It is distressing to one’s soul. The doctrines preached correspond to the rest. “The poor sheep are truly confused.” “Blacks should not fight to be on the level with Whites. “… If you have statements like this coming from the mouth of a so-called prophetess that is White, of course the Seventh-Day Adventist Church will be racist. You have to abandon your culture and heritage to join this church. No White person wants to sit beside a Black person while that Black person is shouting, using drums, saying “Amen” and etc.

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    1. Please be careful when supposedly quoting someone. None of the phrases you shared are from Ellen White. (Anyone can search the full archive at to check this).

      The first block (up to “The poor sheep are truly confused”) is from {MRQI 13.2}, quoting Mrs. S. N. Haskell report to Sarah McEnterfer. It refers to the music at the 1900 Indiana Campmeeting (and has nothing to do with skin color, as far as I can tell).

      The second “quote,” “Blacks should not fight to be on the level with Whites,” cannot be found in the complete archive. I think you’re referring to: “The colored people should not urge that they be placed on an equality with white people. The relation of the two races has been a matter hard to deal with, and I fear that it will ever remain a most perplexing problem. So far as possible, everything that would stir up the race prejudice of the white people should be avoided. There is danger of closing the door so that our white laborers will not be able to work in some places in the South.” {9T 214.3}

      Please, either provide sources and context, or stop spreading FUD. We need clarity and level-headed communication, not fearmongering. The SDA church is far from perfect—it’s made up of humans, after all. But let’s be fair, open, and honest in our attempts to right those wrongs!

      (I know … I see the triple post. I know—”don’t feed the trolls.” I’m mainly interested in clearly countering this vague, inflammatory claim in case someone less familiar with EGW’s writings sees this. I’d hate for them to think those quotes are indicative of her attitude toward black people, when the truth is that she was openly abolitionist at a time when even most Northerners were advocating for other “solutions” to slavery in the US.)

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  12. “They shout Amens, and ‘Praise the Lord,”Glory to God,’ just like a Salvation Army service. It is distressing to one’s soul. The doctrines preached correspond to the rest. “The poor sheep are truly confused.” “Blacks should not fight to be on the level with Whites. “… If you have statements like this coming from the mouth of a so-called prophetess that is White, of course the Seventh-Day Adventist Church will be racist. You have to abandon your culture and heritage to join this church. No White person wants to sit beside a Black person while that Black person is shouting, using drums, saying “Amen” and etc.

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  13. “They shout Amens, and ‘Praise the Lord,”Glory to God,’ just like a Salvation Army service. It is distressing to one’s soul. The doctrines preached correspond to the rest. “The poor sheep are truly confused.” “Blacks should not fight to be on the level with Whites. “… If you have statements like this coming from the mouth of a so-called prophetess that is White, of course the Seventh-Day Adventist Church will be racist. You have to abandon your culture and heritage to join this church. No White person wants to sit beside a Black person while that Black person is shouting, using drums, saying “Amen” and etc.

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  14. I’m a student at Walla Walla University and this crap has been going on around College Place as well. While I recognize everyone’s right to have their own opinion, however demented that opinion might be, the fact that people are talking trash on an anonymous app really does show how cowardly they are. God help us.

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  15. This IS NOT an isolated incident at Southern. It’s been going on for ages. Its been a consistent theme of sooo many stories I’ve heard, a good amount coming from my own friends. I’m not surprised, nor heartbroken. Up until recent times (assuming the faculty is gone from 16yrs ago) is wasn’t just the students that carried on this behavior. The answer now becomes, is it worth it? What does Southren have that’s soo “valuable”. Do they still deserve our support? Money? Our students?. Should the conference fine them, take monies away until the issue is ACTUALLY addressed? Why do people feel only a particular ” hue” of people need to stay in an abusive situation in the name of “diversity” or the years faught for “integration”. That’s absurd. Never placing responsibility on the abusers. And yes, this is abuse. Just because the abuser is ” doing better” or “making strides to remedy it’s ways”. No logical human would tell a woman (or man) to just stick it out, and pray. So why all this talk about how it’s “prejudice” or “going backwards”, if people suggest students attend school in an environment that nurtures the whole of them? That allows them to focus on attaining higher education without the burden of racism. It’s very clear who needs to reach across the table and make amends…but until then. The students need to find a place that’s Safe. Welcoming. And worth it. If it’s a HBCU so be it.

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  16. I am sorry that happened. Hopefully only a few uneducated people were represented. I am white and when I went to Wisconsin academy from the Upper Pennisula of Michigan, it was the 1st time I was ever around black people. I had several good friends that were black at WA. If we segregate, how will we ever get to know, understand,and love one another.I know there are problems but can’t we all just love each other and get along?

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  17. Both sides were kinda wrong. Racism is something stupid that everyone should stop. this is not Christian at all.
    The preacher wearing Jeans in a worship where students cannot use it, is not stupid like racism but it’s not a smart decision. And plus: We shouldn’t preach acceptance instead of no difference. Either black and white are the same thing. White people shouldn’t “learn” how to accept black people because black people don’t need it, white people aren’t more important. I mean, we are the same thing for Christ. Just human beings. No one is better than anybody else. But since we are the same thing, the rules of the vespers should be the same for everyone. No drums and that’s it. If we wanna be all the same and have the same treatment, let’s be all the same with no exceptions then. In February (black month) is still the same God, and same church, no drums then.
    😀

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    1. No. Black people do not struggle for equality we struggle for justice and fair treatment. Different people worship differently… not only in terms of race but beliefs also. I should have a right to wear jeans and a suit jacket if I decide to… he was not confined to the rules that the students are and if my jeans are taking away from the worship experience thats a whole other problem. If I worship with drums, with liturgical dance, and whatever else it should be my right not to be looked down upon or talked about. I go to many different churches, i’m a musician, I have to…. been to churches with left wing and right wing view regarding music dress and etc. i find God in it because hes there regardless of they worship differently or the same as me.

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      1. Paris… hahahah
        You talk about acceptance/adapt and blablabla, but you cannot even accept the customs of a traditional church. You CAN and you SHOULD are different words. You wanna impose your way to worship there. that is not acceptance, I’m sorry. Read I Peter 2:8 😀
        And please, don’t make me laugh too hard; Fair treatment is equality. Everyone should be treated equal, which means equality. Not in styles/cultures but in treatment. This is fair treatment, and if you don’t think so you are the first person in the world who thinks different. I would like to understand more your point of view.

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    2. You can laugh equality is not the same as justice…… Justice is getting what you deserve equality is getting what every one else got. The fact that BCU was allowed to have that worship is not imposing…. if it was the atmosphere of worship would have been and should have been changed. And referencing 1 Peter 2:8 where did the speaker disobey traditional worship as you put it.

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      1. yeah, that’s the point. If you wanna be honest, equality (equal treatment) and justice should be the same thing. Every one deserves the same thing. Race won’t change what you are suppose to get. That is equality and justice (even though some white and some black people wouldn’t like to think so).
        I didn’t say they imposed that kind of worship. The way sometimes we impose/proclaim our liberty to worship can be an imposition in the same way.
        I put the wrong verses: 1 corinthians 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 6:12

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  18. I attended Southern Adventist University…and to say the least i was dissapointed. I come from a caribbean back ground. And here in the caribbean they believe adventist institutions to be the “ish” how ever as i took my long walk of shame on what i called Southern Adventist University Mile …it struck me i waa never part of this institution ..racism at southern does not just start with the students it starts with whose leading it .. caucasian students practically get away with murder while our afro caribbean or african american students just have ” boo” and are expelled. I must say my experience at southern is one that shamed me …i would never recommend any minority to attend there. One thing i got out of southern that my God never left me all the time i attended there.

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    1. I encountered Southern University Alum at Loma Linda U in the 1990s. They were racist towards me in class. Tried to imply that I was irresponsible when I was actually doing what I was supposed to, one of them sic’d their dog on me and my friend as we walked past their house. Even worse, these people decided it was okay to do lab experiments on Sabbath – this was one of the reasons they labeled me ‘irresponsible’. I wanted to do my part before Sabbath began or after it ended.

      I’m sure the school may have changed since then but the experience has left a nasty taste in my mouth. It’s not a school I’m considering for my kids. Thats sad but, I want my kids to be safe, wherever they attend school.

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  19. Sad thing is that the same issues were there when I attended Southern College in 1985. It was so bad then that the black male students went in pairs to shower for a while for there safety. The rise of the south and confederate flags were major issues. I hoped this had changed.

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  20. As long as the SDA church officially recognizes, supports and sponsors segregation – yes, I mean the Regional conferences, where do you think racism will go? It is a way of life. When diversity is embraced and encouraged at even the highest administrative levels of the organization, we might start to see the unity that Christ desires. Can’t have it both ways.
    As long as there is division there will be division.

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    1. Tim Feig, you are dead wrong. Separate conferences do not cause racism. Racism causes separate conferences. Until the issue of racism is dealt with honestly–which means that whites must acknowledge the role that Christianity has played in maintaining white supremacy– we will go nowhere fast. Remember: we have separate conferences because of the unfortunate reality that generally speaking, whites want nothing to do with blacks in our denomination. Blaming separate conferences for racism in the church is like blaming chemotherapy for cancer: it mistakes the effect for the cause.

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      1. Friends, Separate conferences are separate because my black brothers wanted it that way. They
        asked for them and got them–for better or worse. I was there at the beginning of this straw man.
        By the way, we may all subscribe to whatever Conf. we choose, regardless of race or skin color.
        There are Black and Spanish Conf. Presidents in what some so called “White Conferences” There are white pastors with minority members and black pastors with white members in this denomination. If you are a Christian, it won’t bother you at all–if not you have a larger problem. We have far more serious problems in or SDA Church than the demographics of our denomination.

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  21. I want to thank you, Corey, for addressing this issue. You note that “we must start a serious, proactive conversation on how we can work toward eradicating racism in our church. It will be difficult and painful. It will require honesty and humility.” Let me join this conversation with, I hope, honesty and humility. I am currently a professor at Southern Adventist University. I regret that many posters here are blaming the whole institution for a racist problem. I hope that many of us–students and faculty–are sending a different message. I hope that my fellow faculty and students at Southern believe that I appreciate and value the diversity that we do indeed have. I have long believed that explicitly talking about race is at least a start. Perhaps I have been clumsy in doing so. At any rate, I invite feedback for me personally. Let’s not be anonymous. I invite my friends and students to tell me how I can do better. I will join you in praying for honest conversations that lead to understanding and healing.

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  22. Racism, or hatred to another person based on their race, must be seen as a sin. It’s a problem of the heart, a heart that has not been converted to God, a heart that has not been changed.
    I understand that you would denounce such an evil, but are we loving the sinner in the process? From your post it seems that you are not concerned about the sinner at all, rather only concerned about the consequences that such a sin could have if played out entirely. Let us not forget that a sinner was sitting there on those pews, a son of God that might be looking for Him like the rest of us. The sin must be continued to be denounced, but let’s not forget about the sinner. Why, you may ask? Just think about other sins that are present in the church and how it would look if we denounced their sin without compassing for the sinner. Think of the groups of “christians” that constantly show up at gay parades or at abortion clinics protesting for the evil in such places. Even though they think they’re denouncing sin, they forgot about the sinners. This is not compassion. This is legalism used to our advantage.

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  23. ‘Though my heart is pained at our shot-sightedness, REMEMBER:
    * Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul
    prospereth. [3 John 2]
    *If the world hate you, ye know that it hated ME before it hated you. [John 15:18]
    *…If they have persecuted ME, they will also persecute you; …[John 15:20]
    *…In the world ye shall have tribulation: …BUT I have overcome the world. [John 16:33].
    *But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not;…[Luke 22:32]
    *…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for
    them…that persecute you;… [Matt. 5:44]
    *…I AM with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Matt. 28:20]
    My opinion cannot save any one. I give you THE WORD that is able to keep us from falling.

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  24. I’m disappointed to see the esteemed speaker of the vespers that “lit southern on fire” is posting an article after the fact mostly fueling the fire. I am not racist, but I speek for many white Americans when I say that we are as sick of racism as anyone offended by the yik-yak incident.
    The things said do come from an ignorant place, they come from disregard and zero consideration for another person’s feelings. But for this speaker to say that:
    “The thing is, because racism is inherited, not inherent, these kids most likely learned it from their Bible-believing, truth-bearing, Sabbath School attending, “good” Adventist parents”
    is just as ignorant as the comments themselves. As a 24 year old senior, it has been a sad reality to watch society digress since my childhood. A parent can teach and be the perfect model of equal rights and love for all human life but between social media, and modern entertainment, a child stands little chance of avoiding racial bias to one degree or another.
    I stated earlier that I am a 24-year old while student at SAU. I have never been racist. But over the last year I have personally been discriminated against more than I have seen anyone of another race. White people are automatically considered racist, guilty before proven innocent by the majority of African Americans on campus. Statements such as “stupid white boy” “dumb ass white kid” and “entitled white prick” are just a few. But if I was to speak out, who would listen? If I was to get 10 of my friends who have experienced the same discrimination as I have to sit in a common area in protest of this, WE would be considered the racists for feeling uncomfortable by those comments and cause backlash of racism claims of another race. The fact that this has caused such a response from not only this speaker but by the University and other leaders in the community is doing nothing but stirring up the racial tension that is supposedly wanting to be avoided.. shameful.
    This is not the first time there has been discrimination of this level on the yik-yak app. I’ve viewed many yaks of people calling out profedssors, speakers and other students for things such as looking weird or ugly, being fat, not dressing well, studdering, having a disability.. the list goes on. The above insults all vibrantly worded and descriptive causing every bit of hurt and disgust as the posts at this vespers. Why was there just now a response, why is black on white “hate” the only thing that causes a response from the community? Because it’s being looked for. As a white student it’s like being attacked every day, under a microscope to always be open and make special considerations for other races, all while enduring relentless hatred ourselves. Why isn’t it about being open accepting and loving to everyone instead of making it about black vs white. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of being treated as a racist because of my skin color. How does posting this article solve any problems Mr. Johnson? I’m sincerely apologize for the comments of the ignorant, but spreading the fear for your son’s future, and restating the hateful things is fueling the fire you so publicly claim to wish to extunguish. Also Mr. Johnson, the comment about white “racist” parents as though we are Black-hating inbreds is just every bit as insulting and “racist” as the comments posted at your talk.
    Thank you for your great vespers messgae. But you will not receive thanks for heightening the racial tensions at my University, especially with this article.
    Racism isn’t inherent; you’re right.
    But it is taught, experienced and heightened by incidents like this, so thank you, but no thank you.

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  25. Wow……I am a young adult living in The Bahamas. This ,over the weekend, has become a big topic over here and is very sad. No; racism cannot go both ways, but prejudice can. What I have gotten from this is that the problem was always there. I am a coloured young lady, but I also feel that in some ways, the ‘whites’ as some people call then are being generalized. I hope and believe that the ignorant behavior did not apply to everyone.
    Another thing, some of the students seemed appalled at the type of worship service. If this is the case, I guess they won’t like any of the churches in the Caribbean because “Amen’s” and “Praise the Lord’s” as well as “Hallelujah’ s” are common in our churches. We do jot say these things to follow fashion or other denominations, but as a sign that we understand or agree with what is being said. Also, our worship services are always lively. Almost 100% of our church services use drums…..Yes in moderation but they are there all the same.
    And even if the service was a bit overwhelming and very different from what you are used too, as a SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST , these type of ignorant comments should not be made . Do you mean to tell me that you were in CHURCH posting these things? I am so disgruntled and have come to the conclusion that if I ever decided to come to this university, I would keep to myself, not just because of my colour, but also because of the close relationship everyone has with everyone, regardless of who or what they came from , in The Bahamas.
    Now , this is just my opinion on the topic, and I do stand to be corrected, because what I say is not fact, but I can say that we have have discussed this in our AY this week, and most of us feel the same way

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  26. “I was not at vespers Friday evening. But because I am white and go to Southern, this makes me upset. Not every white person that goes to Southern posted a racist comment on Yik Yak. Posting a generalized statement like this is so very wrong… “because racism is inherited, not inherent, these kids most likely learned it from their Bible-believing, truth-bearing, Sabbath School attending, “good” Adventist parents”. It is just as wrong as anyone being racist toward someone else.
    Here is the fact of the matter. Some white people are blatantly racist to black people. Some black people walk around with a chip on their shoulder. Some white people are rude and entitled. Some black people steal. But not ALL white people are blatantly racist. Not ALL black people walk around with a chip on their shoulder. Not ALL white people are rude and entitled. Not ALL black people steal.
    Some white people are very kind to black people. Some black people are very kind to white people. Some white people are mean to white people. Some black people are mean to black people.
    We cannot generalize each other or we will end up fighting all the time. If this stinking issue can’t get resolved, I’ll start praying God turns us all purple!” copied from a facebook post, she couldn’t be more right. The generalizations and statements you made in this blog are in no way helping this matter.

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  27. After seeing this, combined with what the inappropriate yik yaks said I was hurt by how you made ‘southern hospitality’ to be derogatory…I am so disapointed…racism isn’t beaten by both sides building walls and getting defensive, one of us has to come out from our fortress and love the other one.

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  28. Now I’m a 3rd generation Adventist and a racist bigot. I’m not so because I explicitly practice racism. I don’t really. I don’t hate people because of the color of their skin. (I don’t think so anyways.) But I do openly and unabashedly support a system that thrives on racism and bigotry. As Seth noted, the SDA church has openly embraced and in some ways perfected the separate but equal rule for the past 70 years. I support this with my tithes and offerings. I support it with my attendance at my local church. I support it.

    We’re assuming some things, as far as the Corey situation goes. First assumption is that the students on Yik Yak were white. Aren’t there Asians and others attending SAU? We’re also assuming that they are not black. Surprising as it may seem, I’ve heard black folk say some of the same deprecating things about each other.

    I attended GCA, a jewel in the racist’s crown, back in the 80’s. The faculty that was installed shortly after I got there was had an attitude and outlook that was far different from the one just prior as well as the current administration. The key was the willingness to have the one on one relationships with people who don’t look like you. It’s a whole lot easier to move along the racial divide that our church fosters but it’s much more rewarding to get to know people and learn the courage of Jesus.

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  29. If anyone thinks there is a significant amount of american schools where there aren’t any idiotic, hateful and moronic bigots who would anonymously show their racist ugliness in random anonymous social media, they are lying to themselves. I wish the anonymous posters, whatever race they were, could be held accountable for what they said and put their face on their statements, and experience those repercussions. I believe the overwhelming majority of people on that campus, of whatever race, are disgusted by what they read from that no name phone app. I know that myself, my wife, and all SAU alumni, that I have spoken to, feel the same. Therefore, I am optimistic that our generation won’t be nurturing to this sort of mindset in the coming decades. Is SAU a hostile and racist campus, it is not. Are there some racists who attend SAU, no doubt; especially after these Yik Yak posters’ posts. I hope the amount of those racist students at SAU can be zero in the coming years and that everyone can enjoy what that school has to offer, without experiencing this sort of inexcusable hate, no matter what the source. I do, also pray, that people who wish to destroy SAU or other Christian establishments and universities don’t feel encouraged now to continue spreading this filth that works to divide students based upon the color of their skin, by creating even more hateful, anonymous postings of this nature. I feel all of the different races at all of my Christian schools enriched my experience and allowed me to grow into a better member of the human race. I hope students of all races can say that of their christian educations for today and tomorrow.

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  30. Corey, you never assumed the race of the bigots who wrote those evil comments on Friday night. Also, why are you treated as if you are a perpetrator, as a result of your blog? Keep you head up and remember your value! We love and stand behind you here in Philadelphia!

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    1. Carla, I am glad you stand behind Corey In Philly. But the idea that you in Philly stand behind Corey when we, down here at Southern, do not, is mistaken. You naive if you think that there are no racists in Philly who would make posts on Yik Yak disparaging someone because of their race. As a matter of fact Southern is a very diverse campus and the majority of the students here don’t even come from the southern United States. Furthermore, the response here on campus against what was said during the Friday night vespers was swift and decisive. But instead of choosing to look at the overwhelming majority of us who repudiate the comments of a few, many people choose to focus instead on the comments of three or four people, out of 2,700. The comments were disgusting… but is there any recognition by Corey or anyone on this forum that nearly everyone on this campus has responded aggressively and are NOT, in fact, racist? No. Why not? Because it is much easier to take the easy path and reinforce stereotypes. This is not the ante-bellum south. Racists are everywhere, even in Philly. But on this campus very few people could be classified as racist. Furthermore, we are talking about college students… individuals who have not yet learned how to articulate themselves well, who are searching for themselves, searching for acceptance, and are known across time and space to universally say really stupid things. Does that excuse their actions? No, and the university is responding, as best as they can to anonymous comments anyway. But external stereotyping doesn’t help either. So, Corey, we down here at Southern, we got your back too. Hopefully every campus you go to will have your back. And next time if someone disparages you, try not to judge the entire institution based on the comments of a few. That’s sort of like… well, sort of like judging an entire race based on their skin color.

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  31. “why is black on white “hate” the only thing that causes a response from the community?”
    because black people are still being killed for being black…

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  32. Corey, a couple of thoughts. As someone who is part of the SAU family, I want to apologize on behalf of everyone here. We are thankful that you came to our campus and I hope you come back. We need to continue supporting black students on this campus. And all minority students, for that matter. We also need to reach out to our black students on campus and let them know that the views expressed by those on Yik Yak are quite literally probably less than five or ten students. What a lot of damage just a few people can do. I can understand your emotional response to the comments made on social media… I don’t think anyone doesn’t understand the frustration of a few stupid racist students. In fact, the university response has been swift and deep and has completely rejected the sentiments of the few who targeted you over the weekend.

    That said, I also must take exception with how you seem to characterize the university in a broad stroke. This is not a racist campus. Most of our students aren’t even white, and many aren’t either American or from the south. Every group will have a few people that harbor thoughts not acceptable to the rest of the group. I’m surprised that you don’t take this into account. This doesn’t excuse bad behavior but it does mean that you recognize humanity. It also means that you recognize that most of the rest of the campus, within a matter of hours, completely and thoroughly repudiated the comments of the few.

    That you suggest that these racist notions come from their parents, well, it is ridiculous to suggest, without qualification at all, that the reason these kids made these comments is because they were taught this attitude at home. I’m sure that in your life your parents have probably been ashamed of things you have done and have said, either to you or to themselves, “that is not how we raised you Corey, you should know better.” A parent who never says that to their children is a parent who isn’t paying their children any attention.

    I am also bothered by the Black Power picture that ran with the article. Disturbed that students would be asked to pose for a picture like this when it can only further the divide. Although the raised fist doesn’t originate with the Black Power movement, as you very well know it is closely associated in the US with the Black Panthers of the late ’60s; a group that did not exactly embrace MKL Jr.s non-violent approach. Taking a picture of students raising the black power fist is, might I suggest, akin to symbols of the old south that offend black Americans so much. Bottom line, your article and photo do not seem intended to heal. They seem to aim at further tearing down, stereotyping, and dividing a great campus full of great people. And for what? because we have five or ten people who have loud mouths and are immature college students prone to speak before they think? You are the one person, as the speaker who was the target of these disgusting comments by our students, who was perfectly positioned to generate a healthy discussion on this campus by your response. That response could have been one that didn’t include painting the campus with a broad stroke. One that approached the university admin (although maybe you did do this) and expressed disappointment but eagerness to come back and work with our students, black and white, to heal these divisions. Your attitude infects the black and white students on our campus, students who should not tolerate these Yik Yak comments but who should likewise find a way forward that doesn’t include stereotyping and further division. The goal is not division, it is unity. I don’t see how your blog post fosters unity. Quite the contrary.

    You are welcome on this campus, and I genuinely do hope to see you back again… although I hope next time there aren’t any negative racist comments directed your way. And if there are, I hope your response, as a preacher, is one of love and unity.

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    1. 1. Thank you for repudiating the racism of students on your campus.
      2. In my statements following Friday night’s incident, I said on social media consistently, “I will not allow for the words of a cowardly racist minority to negate the awesome time I had this weekend.” Whenever people have reached out with apology, I responded, “it’s all love.” And told them that I enjoyed my time at Southern with the good people I encountered there.
      3. I never paint a broad picture of southern as a racist school. My thesis statement in the article is that the church has a racism problem. I did not relegate racism to simply being a Southern problem. I said it’s a Seventh-day Adventist problem. So I do not know how this became about me generalizing Southern Adventist University. My focus was the church at large. It just so happened, that I experienced racism head on at Southern. Which then leads me to my next point.
      4. It is inappropriate for you to tell the victim of racism how to respond to racism. You were not called a “niglet”. You were not referred to as a “Negro person”. So you have no place to educate or advise on how victims of public racism should respond. I didn’t paint Southern with a broad brush, and I have not shown bitterness. But to tell me how to respond to racism in a manner that makes you comfortable is the height of white privilege.
      5. The picture articles a power to love and overcome despite hatred and institutional, micro, and macro racism thrown against us as educated young Seventh-day Adventist Christians. It is not for you, who is not a part of the culture, to re-define what that image means for us, with your limited and myopic understanding of the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement. Black affirmation is not white oppression. We have never articulated that, and never will. I’m sorry, but the picture will not be changed. You are welcome to join us with your first up in solidarity though. That’s what the church needs. Not a lecture to victims on how to respond to racism, but more people who will in solidarity stand up with their fists up in RESPONSE to racism.
      5. I went to Southern to preach the gospel to young people my age who are dealing with all college has to offer, in terms of peer pressure, low self esteem, doubt, etc. These issues aren’t black issues, or white issues, but they are a part of the human experience. I didn’t go there to fuel the fire of racism and anger. But, when I experience since things, I will share my feelings. I will make a call to action. I will make sure that we begin the process of eradication racism, not simply from Southern, but as I clearly stated, from the church. That idea is clear in my blog, fists up and all.

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      1. Corey, you don’t even know what race I am. You assume I am white, and just because I have an opinion that is different from yours it must be that I embody white privilege. How unfortunate. As for the picture of black fists raised, I’m not asking you to change the picture. I’m only suggesting that with its history in this country it does not foster unity from those you need to work with, and who need to work with you, to fix this problem. To think that you can unilaterally control how this discussion moves forward, or backward, and that your actions and words don’t have any impact on the speed or direction of that movement, is just not accurate. Your response to what happened this weekend can be whatever you want it to be, my point was that you cannot control the ripple effect of that response, which will either further divide or help spur us forward to solving this issue and unity. The university response to what happened this weekend would have come regardless of your blog post, but your blog post has not engendered ripples of unity. Don’t you see, we want to end racism, but making blacks and whites angry with each other is not helping to do that.

        As for your article being about racism in the church as a whole, yes that is clear. But it is clearly framed around this incident here at Southern, and even the blog post’s title makes clear that while this may be about the church, generally, it is also very much about Southern Adventist University. This is evidenced by the fact that most of the responses to your blog post have had nothing to do with racism in the church and everything to do with supposed racism here at Southern.

        Again, we need people like you on this campus, people who can stimulate positive conversation about race and build support for black Americans. We want to rid racist notions from the few on campus who harbor them. But when people like you come to this campus, and then leave us, we need you to use language of healing. So I won’t tell you how to respond to racism, and you don’t tell me what impact that response has on this campus.

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  33. My name is Carlin J. Alford. I am a 45 yr old, Black man. I am a 5th generation SDA and I grew up in the shadow of Andrews University, (Niles, MI). I attended the greatest SDA school in America, Niles Westside Elementary School grades 1-8. I graduated from Niles First Assembly HS which was a predominately white school. I spent 2 1/2 yrs at Oakwood College (University) and graduated from Andrews University. My grandmother taught in the SDA and public school systems for over 40 yrs. My father worked as a Federal agent for the United States Commission on Civil Rights during the Reagan administration.

    Too many people are using terms out of context. Many are using Racism when they should be using Prejudice instead. The kids who posted comments on Yik Yak are Prejudiced…not necessarily Racist. Racism only comes into play when you have authority or power over someone and take action against a person or group of people based on their ethnicity.

    The comments posted by these young people are very much how they feel about Blacks. So what? I’ve heard just as bad comments about Whites while sitting around potlucks at the Black church. It doesn’t make it right, but let’s not act like we haven’t heard this before now. Social Media is how today’s group communicate. The message is the same.

    The topic has brought up the issue of Regional Conferences and what we’re finding out is the fundamental reasons for their existence is still relevant today. The problem isn’t SAU. The problem is the deep rooted, generational prejudice of some Whites against Blacks. Here’s the igniter…I have witnessed many of these Black History Weekends at Andrews, SAU and other places and WE tend to take those opportunities to be as loud and defiant and even obnoxious almost forcing a confrontation. The description of the balcony being out of control is probably accurate. It doesn’t justify racist comments, but in anonymity, it exposes the hidden racist in those who are uncomfortable.

    So, here’s the bottom line for me…this is “par for the course”. It’s how some Whites view Blacks, but it’s nothing new other than being posted on Social Media. We’re supposed to have advanced by 2016, but we’re not even close to where we should be. Lesson is that what we feel as Blacks is valid. We’re not making this up.

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  34. We all bleed red. Haters gonna hate. We have to rise above it and stop giving any press to the ignorant. By posting their hate we help it propagate. Pray for your enemies and do go to those who hate you.

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    1. Best advice I ever received from who is my mentor and now boss is, “Transfer, save yourself (or parents) money. Believe me, you will not be missing out. Southern Adventist will do you no favors.

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  35. Satan , a devious fellow, fooled Eve and psyched out Adam and is doing the same with us today if we allow it. Please for those of us within the faith who believe in the second coming and the millennium and the earth made new, keep your eyes on Christ and keep going forward to inherit eternal life.
    In the church in Christ’s time there were all kinds like we have now especially prejudice members- the wheat & tares
    Let us examine ourselves whether we are in the faith (2Cor13:5)and petition the Lord to heal us and save us( Jer17:14)
    Don’t let Satan divide and conquer

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  36. As the church is a hospital for sin sick souls do not be surprised to find the symptoms of sin in some corners/events. Instead, let us seek to pray for greater wisdom and strength to surrender more to the Holy Ghost power to lead, guide, direct these sin sick souls into contact with divinity. There is certainly still that Balm in Gilead. Blessings

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  37. I apologize if this might offend some people but maybe this is God giving us a sign to be good stewards of our money and send our children to a state university. Southern Adventist has not done me (or my friends) any favors in the professional world and even my nursing (SAU’s claim to fame other than Little Debbies) friend’s co-workers are community college educated. This should be an indicator to parents that thought they were sheltering their kids from real life issues. SEND YOUR KIDS TO STATE SCHOOLS AND SAVE MONEY!!!!

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  38. What’s most disheartening about the comments I have read, is that they seem to be more concerned with defending the brand of Southern, and protecting the perception people have of the institution, than actually dealing with racism within the church. The focus of the article (if you actually read it) was racism within the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a whole. I am hearing more defenses than actual proactive solutions.

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    1. The issue of prejudice is a complicated one and if everyone knew how to fix this then we wouldn’t be discussing it right now, it would already be fixed. Subsequently we still have a bunch of people, of all colors, bumbling their way along with good intentions but with sometimes negative results. As for proactive solutions on Southern’s campus, there is a massive internal response to what happened during your visit this past weekend. I wonder if you have reached out to Southern’s administration and inquired about how they might be responding, or if they have reached out to you to let you know how they are responding. If you hear defense of Southern itself I can assure you it is not because people on this campus (not the ones I’ve spoken with anyway) are primarily concerned about branding. That’s not been a factor in any of the responses or discussions I’ve had. I do sense that people feel that these comments on social media do not represent this campus, and more importantly, their own views, as part of this campus. Students, faculty, and admin have all set out to assure all of the students that they are loved and that these bigoted views are held by very few people. The responses I’ve heard have been that members of this community simply need to start by standing up and being intentional and loud about rejecting bigoted comments like this.

      So there is clearly a proactive solution in progress on campus. By extension, as part of that proactive response, there will be a rejection of stereotypes that are cast over Southern, because rejecting that label is an important part of healing on campus. If the members of Southern’s community perceive that the views of five people are actually the views of 3,000 people, then this is a problem. Healing will not take place. So it isn’t branding protection, but healing, that is sought by stating that the university isn’t really racist. We are stating fact, for the benefit of people of all colors on this campus. And I think if you were to ask non-white students on campus if they feel they live on a racist campus most of them would say no. But still, there is work to do for those that do feel it is a racist campus.

      Many of the responses to your article, despite that the article was about racism in the SDA church, targeted SAU as racist. So it is natural that some defense would be made. Although you may not have blanket stereotyped SAU as bigoted with those exact words, the title “Southern Hospitality” with students, fists raised, in front of a building on SAU’s campus – and the description of the heartbreaking comments made about both you and some of the students on social media – really do frame how people will respond.

      It really is sad that in 2016 we have people on a college campus, seeking higher education, that will make comments like the ones made toward you and some of the students here. I hope the university has officially reached out to you with recognition of this fact. They are certainly reaching out to students here. At the end of the day two good people may not agree on how to best solve the problem of bigotry, but that does not make one of them a bigot, it just means they have different ideas on how to best solve the problem.

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      1. It is unfortunate that they have not done so yet. And I was not suggesting that you should be the one to reach out to them, only asking if any contact had been made. It may also be that Southern’s focus at the moment is in trying to deal with this internally. You weren’t the only one hurt by those comments. Black students were hurt by them, white students were hurt by them, Asians and Latinos were hurt by them… faculty and staff were hurt by them, and the university is making an effort to let everyone know they are loved, welcome, and equal on this campus. It is a very diverse campus and, to be honest, I’m not sure why anyone with bigoted views would want to come to school here anyway when you could just go to State U, for much cheaper, and be with mostly white students. White students are now in the minority on this campus.

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  39. Lol no one knows who made those comments, anyone who is in the area is allowed to post on yik yak, also this article is categorizing SAU as racist but what was posted, if it were students, would make up for around one percent of the student body. Lets say 35 people posted racist things(this is much more than what was posted), the 35 out of around 3000 students(also a little more than the student body) posted to yik yak, that is 1.16 % of the student body. I am very sorry that these racist comments were made and I do not support racism in any way. Every race is equal in the eyes of our loving God. My point is you cannot categorize a whole school as being racist based off of what has happened. I also feel as though the speaker was offended and I am sorry about that. I think you had a very good speech, but I do not believe this article was the proper way to handle the situation.

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  40. There is a story I heard in English class my junior year. I can’t remember all the details but two men, one White, one Black lived side by side but both chose to become enemies. They hated each other and were always fighting about their personal space, hunting grounds, etc.. One day they both went hunting on their own and their paths crossed. They started fighting again as to who had the right to remain and hunt. Their altercation became physical and unfortunately as they were rolling on the ground they both got caught in a bear trap side by side. They continue fighting through the night, both physically and verbally. As night settled in, they heard the howling of wolves. They continued arguing about whose fault it was that they got caught in the bear trap. Nonetheless, the howling kept on getting closer and closer. Eventually they faced each other in silence as they both realized their situation and possible fate. The discussion in class was what did we think they would do and what did we think their fate was going to be, What could they have done differently.

    What happened during last week’s worship was unfortunate. However, the incident has served to bring out into the open a very serious issue that can affect the morale of ALL students on campus. Hopefully the school leaders and students can come together with an open mind and heart, and that instead of standing in “groups” that you stand together as one to pray for each other,for we are all one in Christ. I’m a parent and this certainly is a very sensitive issue for me because as a child of the 60s and 70s I experienced a lot of indifference in SDA Schools. This evil that society has imposed on humanity will continue regardless of what we do and/or say on this earth. We can only ask God to help us to become agents of change. We shall overcome.

    In closing my long response, I leave this with you:

    Knowing God is Knowing Love
    First John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
    If someone hates their brother, then they don’t really know God and are a liar because John writes that “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). Talk is cheap. Anyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer at heart (Matt 5:21-22). Someone can say that they “know God” but if they don’t love others, they are only lying to themselves and to us.

    NOT SURE IF THIS POSTED.

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  41. I find this to be such a breath of fresh air. FINALLY some REAL racial discussions in the Adventist church. Yes, it’s unfortunate what occurred, but it proves that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Some “true colors” were displayed, in ignorance, the question remains, what should be done? Well I think a first step is being taken here, and that’s healthy discussion. Hopefully our leaders will continue with. I once was told that there is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance. You can only tolerate for so long… perhaps now it’s time to learn how to accept. This is the TRUE Christian way.

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  42. This response is in no way to downplay the offensive behavior; it is more to explore the anger felt towards this behavior and use the opportunity to bring to light other issues.

    “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” John 8:7

    I would love to believe being in an Black Adventist church is all kumbaya but it is/was not. Within our own Black Adventists communities, there are prejudices and discrimination that makes one feel just as the pastor felt — there has always been tension between Black Adventist and Black immigrants Adventists or Black Anglophone Adventists and Black non-Anglophone Adventists (for the purpose of this reply includes English speaking African countries with multiple languages) within the church. No one writes about it but it is real. And the ones who don’t have a real voice are sometimes the immigrant groups that don’t speak English. Examples. Recently in a predominantly black city church that experienced an influx of first generation immigrant youth, someone in leadership position asked why don’t they go to their churches. I asked why should they, shouldn’t all Adventist churches be open to everyone. Or churches that claim that pastor is an “island” pastor and they don’t want him and that he should go to his church. Or the surprise they express when they find out that your family is from somewhere else and tendency to treat you differently as a result of that. Or due to where your family is from, there are people who straight up won’t associate with you or want their children near you. Or when my friend’s mom finally ventured to a Black American church and was shunned for a while because of her ethnicity. Or the child who told me her mom told her to wash her hand because she touched a certain ethnic group. I will not go into further details because it is definitely sad to think about. But we all have issues. The Pastor talks about feeling “less than”….right in the black church there are people made to feel “less than.” The recipient of these mistreatments have to choose to forgive otherwise we would not get along. But it doesn’t mean the mistreatment did/does not hurt. What can we do about this?

    Yes, I understand the history of race in this country and it runs deep but somebody has to take a step towards reconciliation. “If God is for you who can be against you.” Romans 8:31. I would suggest not to be preoccupied with what the person next to you thinks. It will create bondage for yourself if you burden your mind trying to figure out who may not like you and deprives you of opportunity to make friends with people who do not think that way. Turn them over to the Lord and leave that judgement up to God. This is the turning the other cheek that we thought was literal when we were younger. This is the walking the extra mile…the making peace with the offender before bringing your offering…the giving of your coat… That’s what we have to do.

    In the meantime, we should have constructive discussion about this and how we can address these issues and ask God for heart transformation for both parties.

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