the riots and ivcf

In the manuscript, I talk about how the LA Riots were an external influence on the IVCF chapter beginning to take race seriously. Two snippets from the staff team leader and a student at the time:

The riots hit . . . I thought, this is just really serious and I didn’t understand the anger and I didn’t understand the division. I was also reading a book at the time More than Equals [(Perkins & Rice, 1993)], and so it was the riots and just the intensity of the problem. More than Equals says if you are not part of the racial healing you are re-enforcing the racial divide. I looked at my life and I realized I am sort of down with the cause in theory but I am not doing anything that people could look at and say, Peter is helping the racial problem. So through the conviction and through prayer and conversation with my wife, I just got to a point where I thought I have to get my life working pro-actively on the multiethnic racial reconciliation issues or I’ll just go back to being the nice White guy who got a lot of nice ideas but didn’t really bring them out. So that was the turning point in my life on this subject. [California U Staff Team Leader]

The Rodney King verdict came out and the riots happened and we went to this conference on forgiveness in the spring. I remember that I went into that conference feeling like, “I’m done with this. I can’t do it anymore. I’ve tried. I don’t understand these folks, they don’t understand me. This is a mess.” You don’t want to feel like you’re always the person bringing up race, but you’re like, “Look, that’s my life,” and it wasn’t working. So I was going to go to this conference and try to make it work, but by that time I had relationships. Peter’s wife Katie had really invested in me. So we went to this forgiveness conference and we went almost the whole conference talking about forgiveness and we talked about everything. We talked about forgiveness of your family, forgiveness between the genders, forgiveness…I mean, we talked about everything except race . . . . This is right after the riots, and to me, it was so pivotal. I was just like, “Oh, my gosh.” It was an eye-opener like, “The city is burning and we are not going to talk about this” . . . We were trying to figure out who we need to forgive, and yet we weren’t talking about this and I was like, “I am done. When I get back to campus, I’m out of here.” I remember just being like, “I want more of God, but I can’t do this.” [describes praying with friends] Honestly, it was just a very supernatural special experience. I cried and they wept and it’s so interesting because later on we found out that a good friend of mine, Elijah, says he remembers coming into the church and seeing us weeping and crying and he was in the balcony…he just started to pray. I think it was pivotal, because I think he had enough relationship with me at that point that at least for him, race was on the spectrum. I think when he walked into that church and he saw what was going on, I think he realized, “Oh, crap, this is a mess. How did we not see this?” So honestly I don’t remember what happened after that, but I know some conversations really started to happen. [“Tammy,” one of few Black members of IVCF back in the early 90s]


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