As a Center for Public Humanities fellow, politics major Ryan Gephart ’17 conducted research on mass incarceration and the criminal justice system. He will continue that passion for social justice when he attends law school at Georgetown Law.
“Combatting racial discrimination,” said Gephart, “is a great opportunity to show God’s love and compassion.”
Gephart, who says he wishes he could do all pro bono work, acknowledges he has a “privileged ignorance” to racial discrimination as a white, male Christian. He says he has a moral obligation to work on remedying that.
“You can define what the end should be,” he said. “You can call for that rectification, because you have this megaphone. This is where people like me fit into this dialogue. I have a great opportunity to ask people to rethink things.”
He also acknowledges an important caveat: If the oppressor class gets to define what equality looks like for the oppressed, we aren’t throwing off the yoke of oppression at all.
“I’m well positioned to draw attention to certain injustices that many people may overlook,” he said, “but it’s not my place to determine what true equality and justice looks like. That is something I believe is to be reserved for those people that society has wronged.”
Looking at the system in new way also includes viewing it through a Christian lens. Gephart, whose mom is a pastor, says his faith has always been there. Messiah, however, broke down barriers for him of what faith is.
“Without being at Messiah, I think I would’ve retained that dichotomy view, just gone along as a typical Christian. I learned to look past the metaphorical temple we construct and distill it to its central tenets. It becomes less dogmatic and more beautiful. It reframed the whole creator-creation relationship, which has been awesome to figure out on my own.”