Jennifer Mason McAward, director of the Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights and associate professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, and Cameasha Turner, a third-year law student in the photo on the right, participated in a panel discussion at the campus-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Luncheon on Jan. 21.
The luncheon was part of the University of Notre Dame’s annual Walk the Walk Week. The week-long series of events is designed to help us consider how we — both individually and collectively — might take an active role in making Notre Dame even more welcoming and inclusive.
McAward served as the moderator for the discussion, A Call to Love: Bridging the Racial Divide, and Turner was one of the six panelists.
Professor Jennifer Mason McAward
McAward posed serious, thoughtful questions about racism saying, “Today we aspire to reflect on racism by modeling those same qualities that Martin Luther King modeled for us. We aspire to diagnose the problem of racism honestly. We hope to respond in the spirit of love. We seek to challenge ourselves to take bold actions. And to do all of these things take courage.”
The panel participants took turns responding to questions about the attitudes and challenges of racism and bigotry on campus and in our society.
“Racism starts with the way we think about people of color, and that leads to the way we treat people of color,” Turner said.
In one of her responses, Turner challenged faculty and students to reflect upon what it means to live a Christian life. To not just attend church services and panel discussions, she said, but to go out every day and live in a manner that embodies Christ’s teachings.
Turner also spoke about the spirit in which we should respond to racism, saying that people of color should take time to heal, to be patient with themselves, and to continue to take a courageous stand.
She encouraged everyone to be allies to people of color — to be compassionate and empathetic, to take action, and inspire those around them, such as family and friends, to take action as well.
“It is important for those of us here at Notre Dame to come together as a group to engage and have those thoughtful conversations that can lead to change,” Turner said.