Synopsis taken from Spectrum Magazine article entitled, Walla Walla University Responds Directly To Racist Image Imbroglio.
“Why should we learn about [blackface] and learn to avoid it like the plague?” McVay asked rhetorically. He provided an abridged history of blackface and its use by whites “to depict African-Americans through their own perceptions rather than allowing African Americans a sense of autonomy and self determination,” not to mention the cruelly demeaning stereotypes blackface generally included.
McVay used the biblical story of the Apostle Paul as an example of a figure who worked with theological motivations to eradicate cultural and racial barriers. He used the text of Ephesians to suggest four points: 1. All people are by nature racists and egomaniacs. 2. The races are already reconciled. 3. God has a strategic plan for the cosmos to unite all things in Jesus. 4. We [believers] have an important part to play in God’s plan.
Noting the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s emergence “within the crucible of the American Civil War,” McVay asserted that the denomination has “moral and theological commitments that reflect its origins.” Many denominational founders were ardent abolitionists, he said.
Bringing the Adventist story home to the current situation, McVay asked whether the prophetic spirit of the early Adventist pioneers could be “as strong today on the campus of Walla Walla University as it was back then.”
Using the analogy of a lingering knee issue for which McVay had been attending physical therapy, he made his closing point: “Healing takes extended time and dedicated effort.”
Changing Walla Walla University’s “deep culture,” McVay told the assembly, will take sustained effort and conversation.