Spring 2017

Happy New Year and Welcome back

Honoring Dr. martin Luther King, Jr. the evening  of January 16 was instrumental in establishing the tone of our reflections for the beginning of this semester. As participants in  the “Walk the walk” week activities, we ponder on the message of Associate Provost Page and words of Fr. Jenkins, who are we? and What is our role in creating an inclusive and welcoming campus? I thought this article was appropriate in considering who we are as a  community.

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I wrote this article as a way to help us when we view someone else as a ‘threat’ because they differ from how we see and experience the world. We often enter into a war of words in a battle for the truth.  Each of us trying to convince the other of how wrong they are and how right we are. The art of peace is never easy in times of war, but never more needed.

My hope is that these suggestions will help in finding worlds not yet discovered – yearning to be explored, understood and embraced. For hatred, often is about fearing what we do not understand.


This is not always easy, especially if we morally, spiritually, politically or religiously disagree with someone. Also, we might emotionally leave, even if we’re still physically in the room. So, the real the commitment here is our willingness to remain emotionally and physically present and open to working things out.


It is often convenient to stop listening when our truth is in competition with someone else’s truth. The hard part is being curious about what they mean and how their experiences impacted who they became and are today. This requires being sincerely curious about the social and personal contexts of someone’s life journey and how those experiences shaped their future life choices and perceptions.


There is a Buddhist saying: “To have no enemies, is to take no prisoners.” I think that what is being implied here is to notice how withholding some part of the truth will hold another hostage. Thus, creating resentment, bitterness and distrust. It’s not easy. As someone once said: “The truth is always there. Saying it out loud, now, that’s the hard part.”


Being in a relationship affords you the opportunity (if you’re willing to take it) to see who we are in the eyes of another. We seldom get to hear, let alone truly see, what we look like to others when we’re angry, frustrated, irritated, in love, in despair, feeling hopeless or lost. That is why reflecting on our actions/inactions and being open to hearing how others experience us is so critical to our growth and understanding of ourselves and our impact on others. As Anais Nin once wrote: “We do not see the world as it is, but rather who we are.”


There is an American Indian saying: “Today, is a good day to die.” One of the implications here is that we need to examine whether or not we are headed in the right direction and if we are harming others by our actions/inactions.

Perhaps, one of the reasons we have such a hard time apologizing and taking responsibility is because we seldom witness that quality in our leaders and from our institutions.

Maya Angelou once wrote: “I may not remember what you said or what you did, but I will l always remember how you made me feel.”


So often, change is viewed as having to lose something, rather than as an opportunity to enhance and enrich our lives. Transformation is defined as a change in nature, form or character.

To create trust and community, we must be willing to transform our goals, ourselves, our communities and our institutions when the need arises. Change is a healthy and necessary part of nature and science and in all relationships.

As Amelia Earhart once shared:  “The most difficult decision is just to act. The rest is just tenacity.”

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I have attended several of his sessions at conferences and wanted to share his perspective with the University.

If you want to participate in conversations, visit MSPS Facebook site for upcoming events. February 15, MSPS will host a panel Sports and Social Activism: Fame, Controversy , & Impact  in Montgomery Auditorium. For more information email: msps@nd.edu or call 574-631-6841


Iris Outlaw `90 MSA



A Reflection for Christmas Break & Rejuvenation

Interfaith prayer service

Interfaith Prayer Service – November 14, 2016 – Matt Cashore, photographer

The last final for the semester has been taken, bags packed and now you are on your way home, to friends, relatives or wherever the next four weeks will take you. B-R-E-A-T-H-E.  It seems like forever since you could just be, sit in solitude and ponder how you feel, what has occurred over the past five months. How have you evolved? Or are you the same person who stepped on campus in August?  If you are, why hasn’t there been a change? Or should there have been one?

Advent began four Sundays prior to Christmas. During Advent Season, we are called to pray and reflect. Our community has been fractured by many issues, we are called to be one and the “keepers and protectors” of our sisters and brothers.  How this is to be accomplished is the challenge. Often, it is believed that the powers that be should be the driving force to rectify the ills. In reality, everyone is charged to address the inequities, disenfranchisement and establishing an environment where every community member is felt valued, appreciated, safe and welcome.

Fr. John began the call acknowledging the divide that emerged in our community because of the contiguous election year. He stated we must work toward the common good which includes having critical dialogue that respects the dignity of all persons. During this time, I ask for each of you to determine your strategy to contribute to his request.

The 2017 Spring Semester begins on the National Holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The interfaith prayer service will be in the Main Building at 11:00 p.m Monday, January 16. The second Walk The Walk Week begins the week of January 22.  Multicultural Student Programs and Services will host RAPtivist Aisha Fukushima on January 23 and co-sponsor Citizen author Claudia Rankine on January 26. RAptism is a global hip hop project highlighting how culture contributes to the universal efforts for freedom and justice by challenging apathy with awareness, ignorance with intelligence, and oppression with expression. These of two of several events occurring for more information and listing of other activities check the 2017 Walk the Walk Week site.  Both speakers compliment the fall Solidarity for Racial Justice campaign. MSPS’ Spring 2017 MLK Study of Race speakers will continue the discussion of social activism and the various forms it can take from the kneeling of Colin Kaepernick to demonstrations on college campuses and in high schools. Information will be shared on the MSPS website and Facebook page, as well as in our weekly announcements.  Feel free to contact the office either by calling or email for more information. We hope you will take advantage of these opportunities to have the critical dialogues that Fr. Jenkins referenced during the November 14 interfaith prayer service.

Have a blessed Christmas and Happy New Year.


Iris L. Outlaw

Iris L. Outlaw `90 MSA


When Asian Americans Hear Hate Crime, We Think of Vincent Chin – Diverse Issues June 23, 2015

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by Emil Guillermo

Let the hate crime investigations begin in South Carolina, though some say it’s not needed; they’ll push for the death penalty regardless.

But I say, if hate is present, we should acknowledge it, if we care about the truth. The hate crime route is worth it. It’s just not an easy journey.

Asian Americans know all too well about the politics of pressing for justice in a hate crime case.

We’re still mourning Vincent Chin, who died 33 years ago June 23, four days after being brutally beaten with a baseball bat.

The incident started June 19, 1982. Ronald Ebens, then a 42-year-old White Chrysler autoworker, alongside his stepson accomplice Michael Nitz, 23, took a baseball bat and bludgeoned Chin, a 27-year-old Chinese American, to death on Woodward Avenue in Highland Park, a suburb of Detroit.

Initially, all three were in a strip bar, the Fancy Pants.

Chin was at his bachelor party, soon to be married.

Ebens and Nitz were having drinks after work.

There was an argument in the club between Chin and Ebens that was taken outside to the street. It should have ended there. All parties left, but then Ebens and Nitz pursed Chin and tracked him by car at a nearby McDonald’s.

The killing happened in the fast-food parking lot.

Some witnesses say Nitz held down Chin. Some say he didn’t. Everyone says he was there and did nothing to stop Ebens, who ferociously struck and beat Chin repeatedly with a baseball bat. Two savage blows to the head left Chin unconscious. He died later in an area hospital.

For their admitted role in Chin’s death, here’s the amount of time Ebens and Nitz served for the crime they committed: zero.

Ebens and Nitz were allowed to plea bargain in a Michigan court to escape mandatory jail time for second degree murder. Ebens pleaded guilty; Nitz pleaded nolo contendere. Both men got this sentence: three years’ probation, a $3,000 fine, and $780 in court costs.

It never fails to make any crowd gasp in disbelief.

The light sentence set off such a response that a second trial, on civil rights charges in federal district court, was inevitable. But it was an angry, strident affair with a conclusion to match. Nitz was acquitted, but Ebens was convicted to 25 years in prison.

Hooray? Not quite.

Ebens always called the federal trial a “frame-up” and appealed for a new trial to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court saw the failure to change venues and the coaching of witnesses by a community activist as reason enough for a new trial.

At that point, the new case was put in Cincinnati, Ohio, far removed from Detroit, the Michigan media, the auto industry, and five years after the night of the attack.

It was advantage Ebens, who on May 2, 1987 was found not guilty on the federal civil rights charges.

Ebens told me in a conversation three years ago that the whole matter wasn’t about race. It wasn’t that the autoworker thought Chin, a Chinese American, was Japanese and therefore a symbol of the Asian auto industry.

Ebens said that wasn’t it at all. He said he was sucker-punched by Chin.

Maybe. But to me the crime was clear. If Chin were not Asian or a person of color, I think Ebens wouldn’t have felt the rage he did nor would he have extended the fight beyond the Fancy Pants into the street and then later to the McDonald’s. Ebens beating another White guy? He would have seen himself. Not some “other.” He would have stopped short of homicide. But he didn’t.

There was enough hate present in my legal system to give him the hate crime enhancement to ensure time was served.

But we’re past that now. Whether Ebens says it was or wasn’t about race is kind of irrelevant anyway. The facts are the same: Ebens killed an Asian American man. And got away with it. To this day, he continues to claim poverty to avoid the huge wrongful death judgment against him.

The system still works for Ebens a lot better than it does for any of us.

Let’s hope it works better in Charleston.

Emil Guillermo is an award-winning journalist and commentator who writes for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Contact him at www.amok.comwww.twitter.com/emilamok , www.fb.com/emilguillermomedi