News, On Campus

BAIC Hosts BRAVE Conference on Culture, Spirituality, and Justice

Professors Kyrah Malika Daniels and Amey Victoria Adkins-Jones led a cultural dialogue about spirituality and social justice at the BRAVE Conference on Saturday morning. 

“You never know where your path will take you, but your ethics and your community are what will sustain you,” said assistant professor of theology and African and African Diaspora Studies Adkins-Jones. 

The virtual conference was hosted by the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC). 

The keynote speakers discussed the connections among relationships, spirituality, faith, and art, using these subjects as an opportunity for students to get together and reflect on their experiences. 

“I’m always excited for us to think about the ways that we are resourced by our faith traditions, but also the ways that even our faith traditions call us and demand us as we continue to pursue and question what the limits to liberation have been, even from within,” Adkins-Jones said.

Daniels, an assistant professor of art history and African and African Diaspora Studies, tapped into her own heritage, sharing a story about the link between spirit and social justice in Haitian religion. 

As the first Black republic in the world, Daniels said that Haiti’s independence was guided by a spirit of liberation that later influenced other revolutions. 

“This is a story that belongs to Haitians, but it’s really a story that belongs to all of us, because it’s about what it means to recognize that spirit can guide our fight for justice,” Daniels said. 

Daniels told conference participants to find strength in others’ experiences and heritages.

“I share that story with you, and I hope that you can find some strength in it,” Daniels said. “Recognizing … that it is not the story only of one peoples, but really a story of many of us.” 

Adkins-Jones then explained the legacy of Black Christian churches and their deep-rooted history fighting against slavery.

“The spirit, particularly the legacy of the Holy Spirit, and the witness of Christ, and Christianity have arguably always been about revolution,” Adkins-Jones said. 

Daniels and Adkins-Jones also shared how their schooling informed their “radicalism.” 

Adkins-Jones said that attending college made her view the world in a different way. Growing up, she said that her encounters with racism were mundane and accepted. 

“I didn’t realize the restaurants we didn’t go to, gas stations you don’t stop at and you just know, and it really was not until I was in college that I had a deep like … ‘This isn’t normal,’” she said.

With BC’s Jesuit values in mind, BAIC Associate Director Andy Petigny hopes the BRAVE Conference will help form communities of respect and comfort among students with an array of different backgrounds. 

“I think [of] a community of curiosity, a community of wanting to learn and do more,” Petigny said. “I feel for me in my own personal experience, I’ve had the most fulfilling learning experiences when the group has been diverse and when the conversation has been deep with different perspectives.” 

In breakout rooms, attendees participated in conversations about how to use the speakers’ messages of ethical practices and education to shape their own communities.

“I just want to encourage students to really kind of think about their education not only in the classroom, as not only being surrounded by people that they’re really comfortable with, as not only things that they’re going to be graded on—it’s not only things that have a finality,” Petigny said.

Adkins-Jones ended her lecture by sharing how her social and ethical commitments are consolidated through daily mindfulness and education. 

“Bravery is something we cultivate, courage is something that has to be nurtured and given space to grow and stretch and flourish, and none of this happens alone,” Adkins-Jones said.

Featured Image by Vikrum Singh / Heights Editor

January 30, 2022