We cannot, in good conscience, celebrate Black History Month this year without recalling the deaths of Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Much of the country is in a state of mourning, made painfully aware of the systemic injustices still perpetuated against many Americans.
February is an occasion to question the erasures in our history books, scrutinize narratives of a post-racial America, and look to the past for context in understanding the country’s undelivered promise of equality.
The Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center plans to use the next few weeks as an opportunity to increase inclusion in campus conversations on race. This month’s events are slated to challenge students who do not identify as black to see the interconnectedness of histories, with one event “You’re Black and You Didn’t Know It?” highlighting the mixed pasts of Africa and Latin America. There will also be an electronic magazine distributed to the entire school by the Bowman Center, compiling student writings with historical texts on race.
It will be the challenge of Boston College students, faculty, and administrators this Black History Month to build connections between the country’s historical struggle for equality and the lived experiences of black men and women today.
Especially in light of the protests of last semester, it is important that there are programs across campus to educate the whole of the student body so that everyone has the opportunity to understand the challenges many black students face at BC. It’s not only important that there be education in this way, but that students across campus engage and show up for these different events.
This semester can be a turning point in BC’s troubled state of race relations, with black students repeatedly expressing a dissatisfaction with the current cultural state of the school in campus climate surveys.
When it made its first serious attempt at integration in 1968, BC had proportionally less black students than many universities in racially troubled areas of the south. Since that time, BC has expanded to have a varied population of students from all around the world, but the slowness of integration at BC can still be felt, reverberating through its institutional structure.
Starting conversations on campus is only as beneficial as the students engaging in conversations make them. The coming weeks can be an extraordinary moment in BC’s history if students take the opportunity to engage in productive dialogues. Last semester, the University heard the voices of a few in protests and rallies. This semester, the University needs to hear the roar of the majority in order to shift the campus climate toward solidarity and inclusion.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor