Lexi Schnaser — Staff Writer
This summer has featured protests and debates around the world about racial prejudice. This semester that conversation came to Dordt in the form of a documentary and night of discussion.
November 11th appeared to be the first campus-wide event to specifically target the topic. The first Doubt Night of the year, housed in the B.J. Haan auditorium, revolved around the theme of racial tension and reconciliation.
Doubt Night is a tradition that has been ongoing for the past several years at Dordt. Baart describes the events as a venue for the Dordt community to address hot-button topics from a Christian perspective.
“Sometimes we just have a larger panel discussion,” he said. “Sometimes we interact with a piece of media.”
Doubt Night 2020 kicked off with the world premiere of Jake Brouwer’s 12-minute documentary “Into the Fire.” The documentary followed Dordt’s football team and their response to the current racial tensions in America. Brouwer is a graduate of the digital media and history programs at Dordt and currently works in the university’s marketing department.
Featuring interviews with head football coach Joel Penner and various players, both black and white, the documentary aimed to highlight the diversity on Dordt’s football team and how racial tensions would affect their response on the field this season.
The documentary concluded with a montage of all the interviewees noting that every human is an image-bearer of God, no matter their race or creed.
After the documentary finished, the audience moved into a time of discussion.
Baart facilitated the discussion, posing questions texted in by the audience to panelists Penner and Dr. Barb Hoekstra as they sat on the stage of the B.J. Haan.
The questions included “Where have [Penner and Hoekstra] experienced racism on campus?” and “How can we change racism within ourselves?”
The theme of the discussion revolved around student experiences with racism on campus and how students can approach racism.
Penner, in his short review of the documentary, told his players he was proud of their vulnerability.
Recalling the morning after George Floyd died, Penner said he wept when he first saw the now-famous video.
“I thought, ‘Why am I forty-two years old and this is the first time this is breaking me?’”
This self-revelation led to Penner praying what he called “a dangerous prayer.”
“Jesus, break my heart for what breaks yours,” he said. “Then, see what happens, see what doors God opens.”
For the Dordt football team, one door was to start a racial oneness group for the players. Organized like a small group or Bible study, teammates and coaches met over Zoom to listen to experiences of their Black teammates. They also discussed how these conversations would affect their relationships on and off the field.
In the closing minutes of the Doubt Night discussion, Penner spoke on behalf of his players, saying most felt more than welcomed to Dordt’s community, but belonging was a different question.
The somber audience left the building with Baart’s closing words echoing in their ears: “Our Christianity demands us to step in and fight injustice.”