As part of Loyola Marymount University’s Day of Dialogue, students came together with members of the Los Angeles Police Department for a conversation on race relations. For sophomore Kaelyn Sabal-Wilson, it was an empowering and eye-opening experience.
Day of Dialogue, which took place on campus on Sept. 22, was a two-part event that included “National Dialogue on Race” and “To Serve and Protect,” a discourse between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the LMU community. Sabal-Wilson, as part of the Intercultural Facilitator Program, assisted in guiding the National Dialogue on Race workshop as well as moderating the conversation with LAPD.
Kaelyn Sabal-Wilson, sophomore
Major: Communication Studies
Hometown: Riverside, California
“In my first few weeks in the Intercultural Facilitators Program, I already know this was one of the best decisions that I could’ve made in my college career. Following orientation, I found myself eagerly anticipating the National Dialogue on Race. Last year, as a Freshmen, I attended Day of Dialogue, and I was in awe of everyone who shared their experiences and perspectives on race and racism.
“This year, I felt empowered as an Intercultural Facilitator (IF) to contribute my own understanding to the conversation. Once people began to fill the room, I became even more excited to listen and participate. I feel like that it is imperative that people of all walks of life engage in these conversations together in order to understand and empathize with one another better. As the conversation progressed, I felt so proud of my fellow students of color for passionately speaking out about their experiences and concerns about race here on campus, and in the world.
“In seeing my fellow Facilitators handle these difficult discussions so well, I was enthralled and empowered to be among such amazing people. As this event started to wind down, and we began to prepare for the conversation with LAPD, my enthusiasm swiftly shifted to apprehension.
“By the end of the experience, I felt different.”
“As soon as I saw the officers approaching Malone Student Center, my anxiety level escalated drastically. I was completely intimidated by the looming cloud of Navy blue coming towards me. I was honestly terrified. With each step towards them my heart was racing, my face felt hot, and I felt my breath getting caught in my throat, with videos of black body after black body dropping playing in my head. But once I outstretched my hand for the first handshake, I felt a bit better.
“I was met with warmth, smiles, and genuine kindness from the officers that I spoke to. So many of those that I met seemed so happy to be there with us, and that was an instant comfort. Once we got into the interaction, I felt bits of tension from various places in the room, as I heard the hum of conversation. Some officers were extremely open and candid, while others seemed distant and guarded, but overall this felt like a good first step in the right direction towards repairing the relationship between Police and the public. By the end of the experience, I felt different. I felt like perhaps these individuals — in their honesty, transparency and humanity — could be those that I trust to serve and protect me.
“My LMU EXP is all about embracing the humanity in diversity and taking the time to empathize with one another. Being an Intercultural Facilitator and participating in Day of Dialogue allowed me to do that and to become a global citizen.”
My LMU EXP is a series of student profiles, where in their own words, Loyola Marymount University students write about the co-curricular experiences that have helped shape them during time on the bluff.