Boston College has many weeklong events in its calendar dedicated to women’s issues, faith concerns, and celebrations of other cultures. This week features a new addition to bring issues of diversity to light.
The FACES Council, along with the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, Black Student Forum, and UGBC’s AHANA Leadership Council and GLBTQ Leadership Council, presents Embrace Week, a new initiative to celebrate BC’s racial diversity.
“BC does such good work with weeks—Love Your Body Week, CARE Week, FAST Week—and they’re huge events, and they go so well,” said Abby MacLean, co-director of the FACES Council and MCAS ’16, said. “So we hope this will add to that,”
The inaugural Embrace Week has four governing themes—service, love, faith, and expression—that represent issues that concern members of minority races, and also confront most BC students.
“I think it’s a huge celebration of the strength of diversity and just a very powerful event every year.”
– Abby MacLean, co-director of the FACES Council and MCAS ’16
Joon Young Park, the moderator for the Thursday event and MCAS ’18, explained that the need for Embrace Week came from a common sentiment that events dedicated to celebrating AHANA students and exploring the implications of race and racism were only preaching to the choir. Therefore, the group wanted to create a week to expand its reach and also to recognize the importance of diversity by institutionalizing a week on campus to spread awareness and celebrate intersectionality, Park said.
The first event, called “The State of Service: Why Race Matters,” is a panel between Rev. Don MacMillan, S.J., from Campus Ministry, Mary Troxell, a professor from the PULSE program, and Brinton Lykes, a professor in the Lynch School. Because of the huge prevalence of participation in service among undergraduates, the panel’s organizers wanted to draw on the topic’s wide appeal to discuss issues of race—in particular, the relative lack of students of color in groups like the Arrupe program and Appalachia Volunteers.
“[Service at BC] does have so much to do with race, especially since programs like 4Boston and PULSE are mostly serving communities of color in Boston, and there are a lot of strengths and weaknesses about the service culture at BC,” Grace Kim, FACES Council secretary and LSOE ’16, said.
Tuesday, with its theme of love, features a UGBC-inspired event named “The Black Queer Experience,” part of GLC’s efforts to put on an annual event to discuss the intersection of race and sexual identity. The multi-year topic stems from assertions by GLC members that white, gay males are typically discussed more than GLBTQ people of other races or genders.
“Loving Thy Neighbor: Race and the Church” will take place on Wednesday, featuring Brother Mickey McGrath, an artist who has researched Sister Thea Bowman extensively. As part of Thea Bowman Legacy Day, he will address the history of race in the Catholic Church and of women of color specifically. The crowd will then be able to break out into small groups for discussion.
“We go to a Catholic Jesuit institution,” MacLean said. “We have to take theology. Faith, for a lot of students, is a huge experience. It’s about looking at it with a critical eye, looking at where the church has its shortcomings with regard to race, but also where does it celebrate racial diversity and diversity in general?”
Thursday’s event is a familiar one: the fifth annual Speak for Your Change show. The theme of celebration of diversity closes out the week with presentations from dance, spoken word, and other performance groups, many of which are cultural groups. This year’s show includes performances by Juice, Voices of Imani, Dynamics, Conspiracy Theory, and spoken word artists.
“I think it’s a huge celebration of the strength of diversity and just a very powerful event every year,” Kim said. “So we wanted to close the week as a whole [with the event], and we wanted that theme of celebration to be present in the entire week.”
Finally, between noon and 2:00 p.m. on Friday, various event organizers and mentors will be available for further discussion of the week and its topics in the Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center lobby in Maloney Hall.
The event’s organizers hope that the week will be integrated annually into BC’s calendar of events and is interested to see how it will change thematically after the board’s many seniors graduate this spring. In the short-term, they hope to promote discussion of issues of racism and diversity as well as celebration of BC’s own internal diversity.
“[Diversity] is a part of all of our lives, as is being able to accept it and being able to learn from it and grow from it and celebrate it,” Kim said. “It really is a week for everyone.”
Correction: an earlier version of this article misattributed quotes said by Grace Kim and Abby MacLean. The article has been updated.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor