I came to the United States earlier this year not knowing much about the history of this country and the dynamics of various people groups in America. The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmed Arbery, and many others before and after, soon awakened my awareness of the issue of injustice that is crawling beneath the façade of this nation. As a citizen of a Universe-ity (and I say this because our campuses are melting pots of global citizens), I feel the weight of responsibility to reflect on my own racial blindness and discrimination.
As a third-generation Chinese immigrant, I have experienced life as a minority and witnessed first-hand the pain of unbelonging. But this experience doesn’t justify any slothful involvement towards justice and equality. As someone who is currently involved in academic work, I dream that one day my class will be full of people from different nations, colors, and tongues learning and interacting in harmony. I aspire that there will be deep respect and honor for one another. We do not choose the colour of our own skin, but how we see colors and what we do with our perceptions are decisions we need to make every single day. Most importantly, as a Christian, I believe that every individual bears the image of God –an identity that comes with dignity and responsibility. Therefore, our personhood is a color of its own in a spectrum of humanity. Everyone has a place in it and everyone contributes to its beauty.
I wouldn’t say that I have found the solution for inclusivity within my square inch, but one thing that came out of my ongoing reflection is to discipline myself to reach out to those who are different to me. Conversations are the starting point. Dr. Bryan Stevenson, a proponent of the Equal Justice Initiatives, once said that we need to "get proximate, to change the narrative, to stay hopeful, and to do uncomfortable things." The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that we can do this as a community. My exhortation for all of us is to help each other and keep each other accountable in our journey towards this vision.
For more about my reflection on how we can do justice, love mercy and walk humbly in the University, check out my article published on Stanford Vox Clara.
Dr. Kristel C. Tjandra is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the School of Medicine at Stanford University. She obtained her doctorate degree in Australia. Her research interests span the field of nanomedicine, drug delivery, medicinal chemistry, and disease diagnostics. Apart from conducting experiments, she enjoys engaging in science communication, community outreach and education. She is also a part of the IVGrad ministry at Stanford.