Loyola University Maryland

The Office of Academic Affairs

Opening the Door: Starting Tough Conversations in a Post-Charlottesville World

Father Linnane’s statement on the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., reminds us that as members of a Catholic, Jesuit university, we are called to speak out against bigotry, prejudice, and hatred. At Loyola, we are not merely observers of our world; our mission challenges us to determine and embrace our responsibility to take up issues of social justice.

Our students and colleagues may want to talk about the tragedy in Charlottesville and broader issues of white supremacy, hate, anti-Semitism, racism, and justice. As an intellectual community, we must work collaboratively to make sense of our current realities and apply the frameworks and intellectual rigor of our disciplines to advance thinking, conversations, discoveries, creative pursuits, and actions toward aims of inclusion and justice.

In pursuit of these aims, it will be important for each of us to remember that our conversations with students and colleagues will not always be easy nor will they always lead to satisfying conclusions. In these troubling times, however, this work is our mission and part of our individual and collective contribution to the continuing legacy of Jesuit education.

As we engage in conversations with students and colleagues about the tragedy in Charlottesville, white supremacy, hate, anti-Semitism, racism, and justice, the following tips may prove helpful:

  • Be open to the conversation: Appreciate diverse perspectives, commit to mutual respect, set and clearly state common goals and ground rules for dialogue
  • Recognize needs: As you navigate challenging conversations, be comfortable with vulnerability; be comfortable with tension; understand and accept that pain, fear, anger, hurt, and other strong emotions may be integral to the conversations; do not avoid these emotions—make space for them in the boundaries of respectful, trusting conversations.
  • Allow for space to change and grow: Aligned with our mission, affirm and encourage big and small steps that work toward social justice and inclusion; allow individuals to evolve; honor each person’s individual path and pace. 
  • Speak up unequivocally against racism, anti-Semitism, bias and oppression in any form: Acknowledge systemic racism and the current real world implications of racism. Refuse to tolerate any acts of anti-Semitism, injustice, bias, prejudice and oppression in our community.

The below resources, authored and gathered by our colleagues, provide additional strategies and readings. Our partners, Baltimore Racial Justice Action (BRJA), will also continue their work across campus. BRJA will offer training and consultative services to help us have conversations about race and further our work related to racial justice and equity.  

Should you need additional support for helping colleagues and students engage in conversations, please feel free to reach out to me.

As summer comes to a close and our campus begins the rhythms of fall, let us each continue the important work of building a more just and inclusive community on our campus and beyond.

Cheryl Moore-Thomas, Ph.D., NCC
Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer


After Charlottesville: Resources for Faculty and Students

Change From Within: How White People Must Respond to the Disgusting, Pathetic #UniteTheRight Rally in Charlottesville (previously on ChangeFromWithin.org)

Glossary for Understanding the Dismantling Structural Racism/Promoting Racial Equity Analysis

History of Antiracism Education: Lessons for Today's Practitioners

There is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times

Use These Four Guiding Principles in Difficult Conversations

Why is Legal Immigration to the U.S. Almost Impossible? | Decoded | MTV

3 Angles to the Confederate Monument Controversy