The Resilient Love in a Time of Hate campaign, the brainchild of the Division of Student Affairs and MultiCultural Center, is a conversation between a community and call to action. The campaign aims to achieve freedom through love by educating the University of California, Santa Barbara community on how to battle oppressive hate, inequity and violence occurring both locally and throughout the world.
One of the first events that took place underneath the Resilient Love initiative was a panel between UCSB black studies professor George Lipsitz, Connecticut College religious studies professor David Kim and spoken word artist and activist Sunni Patterson at the MCC Theater on Oct. 5. The event followed Patterson’s performance the previous night at St. George Family Youth Center.
Patterson is an internationally recognized poet. Hailing from New Orleans, she has cultivated a career of spoken word poetry. She uses the metaphor “field hands of freedom” to describe the journey she believes the community must take to cultivate freedom everywhere.
She urged everyone in the audience to have the courage to hope and the audacity to imagine. “We are the ones responsible for cultivating freedom,” Patterson said. It is not simply important, Patterson said, but also necessary, so that the community cannot simply look at freedom, but also “eat” it.
“It brings us life, nourishment and nutrients and everything else that can come from a rightly tilled earth,” Patterson said.
Patterson said people must work together to ensure that the movement succeeds. “We must work side by side to hold one another to the vision, to allow the other to be and become more of what it is we are going to become and to be patient with one another,” she said.
Lipsitz, a professor in the black studies department, described his reasoning behind the resilient love campaign. “We live on a planet suffused with hate, hurt and fear,” he said. “A planet convulsed by violence everywhere. By cruelty and contempt. And the issue for us is how do we play that hand that we have been dealt? How do we live in that world? How do we fight things that are wrong without becoming trapped in them?”
Lipsitz spoke about the university campus, touching on the idea that people are frequently told what to think and how to feel. “We’re not here for that today,” Lipsitz said. “We aren’t here so much for what anybody feels but about the important work that we have to do together. Things will not get better unless we make them better.”
Margaret Klawunn, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, spoke about campus climate following heated conversations that took place at the university during the last academic year. Klawunn attributed her thoughts in the form of a response to singer Lauryn Hill’s question: “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?” Hill’s words are found in the lyrics to the song “Doo Wop (Drop That Thing).”
Klawunn spoke about her intentions in supporting the campaign, saying she wished “to create a different narrative for this campus.”
“If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the year that I’ve been here at UC Santa Barbara, it’s that this campus knows how to go to the heart of something,” Klawunn said. “This campus has been through hard times, this campus has been through tragedy, this campus has demonstrated its love for the community.”
According to Klawunn, the concept of resilient love is not about getting around racism, inequity or violence. Instead, she said, the purpose was to go to the “heart” of the issue and develop a different narrative.
“We want to start a new narrative centered around love and understanding,” she said.