Black History Month 2019 is a Pivotal Step in the Right Direction

As a black woman at Boston College, it is hard not to feel as though my identities are constantly under attack. Whether it be the consistent undermining and doubting of my abilities and intellect in male-dominated Carroll School Of Management classrooms or blatant, public anti-black acts that somehow seem to shock everyone (except for black students) on campus, my femininity and blackness are rarely respected, celebrated, or even acknowledged beyond admissions videos and University apologies.

The refusal to acknowledge black bodies outside of PR stunts and times of conflict further exposes the distinction between diversity and inclusion and thus, the difference between surviving and thriving in this space. BC excels at neither diversity nor inclusion efforts. I say this not to be contentious, but to bring attention to the following: An institutionally racist, patriarchal society that preaches tolerance rather than acceptance inevitably creates the exclusive, homogeneous spaces (both and and off campus) that we all navigate at some point in our lives. And hence, the damage done to the black student psyche is indubitable, in my humble opinion. Furthermore, it diminishes confidence and replaces it with imposter syndrome—how can you feel welcomed and capable in a space that only sees you when you fight against oppression? Is that all that black students have to offer BC?

The short answer is no. The long answer will be reflected in 2019’s Black History Month programming. I, along with various student leaders, faculty, staff, administrators, offices, and departments have curated a series of events that will hopefully empower, heal, and celebrate the black community at BC. I am tired of merely being admired for the strength that I possess in fighting adversity, rather than celebrated for the beauty and humanity of my blackness—and not in contrast or opposition to whiteness (like it usually is when discussed). The spaces that I personally created were created as a means of enlightening, embracing, and engaging the black community by reminding us of the joys, the magic, the diversity, and the magnitude of our being, while also providing moments of reflection that sustain our humility. Ideally, the care and attention throughout the month will rejuvenate us as we forge the path toward a diverse, equitable, and inclusive educational institution. Such events include:

  • University Counseling Services Group Sessions to Process Racial Trauma – February 13, 20, and March 13
  • BAIC x UF x DABC Love Your Hair Event – February 14
  • GLC presents Black Love: The Magic of a Melanated Romance – February 14
  • CAB presents ’90s R&B Karaoke Night- February 15
  • Shuttle Service to & from Jubilee Christian Church (collaboration with Campus Ministry) – February 8, 9, 10, 17, and 24
  • BSF presents Being Seen on the Big Screen: Reflections on Race Through Film – February 4 and 18
  • Black Christian Fellowship presents Black Faith Matters – February 25
  • AHANA+ Leadership Council presents Professor Moya Bailey on Misogynoir – February 12
  • CVSA presents Pasada the Plate – February 7

Make no mistake, these event offerings are merely a snapshot of what not only black, but all AHANA+ students—and other marginalized persons—on this campus have to offer the BC community. In any given month, semester after semester, culture clubs and organizations in particular have created most of the safe spaces, diversity education opportunities, and forums. Many of these have addressed the needs of the AHANA+ community and, at times, educated allies—selfless acts that are rarely admired or replicated within our curriculum to the degree that they should be.

In short, I hope that this month affirms black students, particularly those who are further marginalized within the community (black women, LGBTQIA+ black people, etc.), and that they are seen, heard, and validated. I hope that this month serves as evidence of and as a precedent for the various campus communities that made this month possible. Through collective effort, it is possible to make this campus more inclusive, and it is everyone’s responsibility to do so—true allyship is always active, never passive and never performative. Moreover, as white and non-black people of color likely attend some of these events, I hope that they are able to recognize and remember the importance of listening to, respecting, and validating other human experiences, regardless of perceived differences.

Happy Black History Month!