Acclaimed author calls for racial justice, healing
Internationally acclaimed novelist and essayist Edwidge Danticat kicked off Creighton University’s 2022 Presidential Lecture Series Wednesday evening by urging young people to lead the way to a more just society.
“You realize as you watch this next generation emerging that you have to be hopeful,” she said. “You just have to say to yourself, perhaps naively, that it has to get better. And then go out and seek that hope, seek ways that you can contribute to it.”
Danticat, a Haitian American who at the age of 12 joined her immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York, spoke at the Hixson-Lied Auditorium in an event that was also streamed online. Beginning with readings from some of her writings and then moving to a question-and-answer session, Danticat called for grace in human relationships as people move beyond the prejudices of the past. That evolution, she said, was reflected during the 2020 protests over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“In the summer of 2020, I would go to the demonstrations with my husband, and sometimes with my girls, and we would see so many young people,” Danticat said. “People would say, ‘The young people are so different, they are so engaged,’ and that is because a lot of them read Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.”
Danticat’s appearance was one of four by prominent Black Americans to be held during February and March that will boost Creighton’s commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution.
That commitment to racial healing, Danticat said, must be active.
“Racial healing has to be more than an idea,” she said. “We certainly have to have some difficult conversations, but everybody has to feel that they literally have skin in the game.
“I don't think that an unjust world serves anybody, so it has to be something that we are in together going back to the basic humanity of people.”
Creighton University, she said, is a place of faith and that faith calls on people to see themselves in their neighbors and to avoid “othering” people, which she said is a great obstacle to racial healing.
Creighton’s Presidential Lecture Series is presented in partnership with the Kingfisher Institute for the Liberal Arts and Professions, the Division of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and the Creighton Intercultural Center.