#BUTalksAntiracism: Full Coverage of BU’s Day of Collective Engagement
Full Coverage of BU’s Day of Collective Engagement
BU Today writers attended the all-day sessions Wednesday for the University’s Day of Collective Engagement: Racism and Antiracism, Our Realities and Our Roles. Read updates, highlights, fascinating comments, and quotes and images from throughout the day, as they happened.
Scroll to follow the conversation. The most recent updates are at the bottom of the article.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 8:40 am
In opening remarks, BU President Robert A. Brown emphasized the importance of listening—to students, faculty, staff, and alumni, before rushing to act. He said change will be difficult and it won’t always come quickly. But change will come, he stressed.
“This is a time when it’s vitally important to listen and learn,” Brown said.
Provost Jean Morrison followed Brown and said she has been part of a group of people meeting every six weeks with Crystal Williams, BU’s associate provost of diversity and inclusion, to discuss a book on race and racism. The books have included Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.
Morrison also said she’s been releasing an annual report to the University Council on Institutional Diversity that includes data on diversity.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 8:50 am
Crystal Williams, BU’s associate provost for diversity and inclusion, recounting one of the small, everyday realities of racism—the “small bit of apprehension” she always felt driving to the grocery store when she hit a rotary where there was a police station. Fearing, she said, that as a black woman she had been lucky and that some day her luck would run out.
This Tuesday, instead, the traffic circle was filled with more than 100 people, mostly white, holding signs that said Black Lives Matter, White Silence = White Violence, and No Justice No Peace. “I had to pull the car over because I was brought to tears,” she said. “This is an extraordinary moment” for confronting racism in America.
A fast-moving, wide-ranging conversation on the history of racism took off after 9 am, with Ibram X. Kendi, Saida Grundy from the African American Studies Program, Louis Chude-Sokei from the African American Studies Program, and Paula Austin from the Department of History.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:02 am
Saida Grundy: “Every sociological problem has at least a 100-year history. I’ve always been very preoccupied with how our current moments begin with playbooks that began long ago historically…our history of laws, of Black code of slave code, these get encoded as response to things.
“Nothing about anti-Blackness is actually organic. These got inscribed because anti-Blackness wasn’t natural.”
Grundy: “There is nothing innate about our racial hierarchy, it can be undone.”
Grundy: “Voter suppression was designed to injure Black people in our society.”
Grundy: “We miss the scope of institutional and state racism by rolling back the enrollment of Black students in the university.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:10 am
Polling place problems in several states on Tuesday were perhaps on some panelists’ minds. “Voter suppression is an expressly anti-Black form of state violence,” said Grundy, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of sociology and African American studies. “Others might get caught in the tuna net with us, but it was designed to injure and disenfranchise Black people in this country.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:17 am
Louis Chude-Sokei said, “A crucial part of history is forgetting. Forgetting is crucial to how history works, to how human beings work.”
Chude-Sokei: “History is crucial to how we understand how our tendency to forget things all the time…. Part of understanding the broader story of how we all got here and how we’ve forgotten how we got here…. So much has not been discussed and addressed and it just happens over and over.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:18 am
“It’s not about taking a course in African American literature,” said Chude-Sokei, CAS professor of English, George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies, and director of the African American Studies Program. “All classes have to contend with racism and gender and sexuality.”
Chude-Sokei also spoke about the deeply personal motivations driving people around the world to join Black Lives Matters protests. “You don’t go out on the street because of abstractions. Or, at least most people don’t go out on the streets because of abstractions,” he said. “You go out because you feel it in the bones. You are actually afraid. And it’s that kind of fear, that intimacy of knowledge of race that we’re confronting outside in the world right now.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:20 am
“This country is really good at forgetting,” said Chude-Sokei. “Knowledge of the past is not fun in America. It’s not a thing Americans enjoy.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:23 am
“Part of violence is the denial of it,” said Grundy. The Confederacy’s racism was “really about mass genocide.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:24 am
“The heartbeat of racism itself is denial,” said Kendi.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:26 am
Grundy said, “I have a colleague who says the final act of violence is the denial of violence.”
She continued: “That is actually part of the violence, the denial of violence.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:28 am
Kendi said, “So many deny that racism is pervading this nation, but if you ask them to define racism, they can’t define it.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:30 am
“Everyone is racialized, even people who do not think they have a race,” said Paula Austin, CAS assistant professor of history and African American studies.
Grundy: “Race is a made-up system. I always instruct my students that race is a fabricated classification system. Racism is a belief in the superiority of a group of people, but that also you have a system of power that allows you to exercise that superiority in racism…. Racism is a belief in inferiority/superiority that’s backed by a system of power.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:32 am
Kendi: “Racism is death. I mean, we can break it down that simply.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:33 am
“It’s really important to me to engage students in the definition of racism…. A lot of people do believe racism is these structures that are immutable and historically there,” said Chude-Sokei.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:35 am
“Racism in my definition does have to include how racism works in everybody’s brain,” said Chude-Sokei. “It is encoded in the psyche of all of us, because it is how we organize people.”
Racist scientists tried to ground racism in science after the rationality-focused Enlightenment, Grundy said, hastily adding, “The European Enlightenment. Other people were enlightened before.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:37 am
Kendi said, “During the enslavement era…enslaved Africans were conceived of as physically hearty—so hearty and physically adept that they could withstand the rigors of enslavement. And then by the fall of slavery and the emergence of social Darwinism, suddenly the very same people who, a decade earlier, or two decades earlier, physically hearty, were now not fit.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:40 am
Kendi said, “Professor Austin, we’re living in an historic moment. Demonstrations have literally rocked the smallest of towns, the largest of cities…. From your reading of history, how do you see this current moment?”
Austin said, “It’s a long movement. Some of the challenge here is that calling it the civil rights movement really hurts our ability to think of a long movement for freedom, for Black freedom specifically.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:43 am
Austin said, “State sanctioned violence is not just lynchings, it’s not just the KKK. It’s poverty, it’s a terrible education system, it’s social services and amenities…. Black folks have always been saying state-sanctioned violence goes beyond the police, beyond white lynching mobs and the KKK. I see this particular moment as building not just from the movement in 2015 that was happening on campuses and in the streets, but also in Occupy Wall Street. I think Occupy Wall Street woke up some young white people who saw themselves as the social, economic beneficiaries of whiteness.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:44 am
“It can’t just be about conscious-raising and book clubs,” added Austin.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:45 am
With normal University operations paused, the opening plenary was quickly oversubscribed and many viewers turned to a livestream of the event. “If the opening plenary is any indication, this is going to be an excellent event (this plenary discussion is so great, y’all),” wrote Lindsey Decker, a lecturer in film and television studies, on Twitter. “I’m really glad that the BU community can come together to elevate the voices of our own experts and engage with these issues.”
Kendi asked Grundy how you can be a racist without consciously seeing Black people as inferior. “Racism is not a feeling. Racism is not a disease,” Grundy replied. “Racism acts from a pretty complex idea of self-interest that becomes racialized. You have to have a belief that the other group is taking something from you and you are entitled to that thing. There was no reason in the world that white unions should have been segregated. A large union is a powerful union.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:46 am
“I think we have a moment for cross-racial class coalition building,” Austin said.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:47 am
Grundy said, “There’s also, I believe, a white self-interest to absolve other whites from racism which, by the way, annoys me to no end. If white people could take one thing away from my voice today, please stop insisting that you have the authority to absolve other white people from racism. Do not tell me about the bones in their body.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:49 am
Grundy said, “Racism is not a feeling, it’s not a disease…. Asking white people if they have witnessed racism, we know that has no purchase…they have a self-interest to absolve other white people of racism.”
Grundy said that if white people can take away one thing from what she says today, it’s this: “Please stop insisting that you have the authority to absolve other white people of racism.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:54 am
Grundy said, “There is no way that race is not the modality through which you see the world. Race is the way in which you construct meanings. Race is the way in which capitalism chooses its modalities.”
“We’re beyond the phase now that you need window dressing,” said Chude-Sokei. “Although I’m enthusiastic and giddy about the energy out there, I’m at the age where we’ve seen these things ebb and flow.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:56 am
“We are constantly stepping into the souls of dead Black people, and it’s really important for all of us to be stepping into the souls of dead Black people,” said Kendi.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:58 am
Chude-Sokei said, “The one thing I know for sure is that Black people can’t be the only people living with this…. We have to live with this communally. That’s the one thing about what’s happening in the streets that makes me optimistic.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 9:59 am
Kendi said, “In a way, we are constantly stepping into the souls of dead Black people. It’s really critical for everyone to be stepping into the souls of everyone who is a victim of racial violence.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:01 am
Kendi asked Grundy what she thinks about a comment from someone who says they were raised to be “color-blind.”
“Color blindness is the idea, and it’s a very flawed concept, that the way to get rid of racism is simply to not acknowledge it,” Grundy said.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:02 am
“If you cannot acknowledge my experience, and the factuality of my Black womanhood, then you’re basically amputating my humanity,” Grundy said.
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:03 am
For me, it’s an interrogation of power and an interrogation of privilege,” said Austin. “How am I benefitting? What are my privileges? To think about identity…in that way.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:06 am
In response to a question from a student about how education can help to improve the problem of racism, Chude-Sokei said, “One of the great things that’s happening on the streets and all over the world is people are rediscovering their own power. That is an absolute fact. Who knows where it goes, but we can all agree that people are suddenly realizing that, oh, institutions are scared of us, and we can do something. That should inspire students to engage with their own needs and their own wants.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:09 am
Talking about political protests of 50 years ago, Grundy said colleges and universities absorbed those movements leading to the creation of Black studies departments. “They were absorbing the uprising political rebellion from the streets. That stuff matters,” she said. “Organizing matters.”
A Conversation on the History of Racism: 10:18 am
Kendi asked Chude-Sokei to handle a question from the audience: What’s your advice for a mostly white university like BU in promoting antiracism? What are some of the things we should do or initiatives we should avoid?
Chude-Sokei said, “It’s about sustaining a commitment. It’s important for us to be totally intersectional because the struggles for Black liberation are the struggles for liberation, period.”
“One of the reasons so many white students want our classes and are on the streets is that they understand that this is knowledge for success and how you function in this century,” Chude-Sokei said. “It’s not just about Black liberation. Why should people who are not Black be a part of this? Because this is really about who we all are.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 10:30 am
“You must continuously, daily, work on allyship,” said moderator Carrie Preston, CAS professor of English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor, and director of the Kilachand Honors College. “You’ll make mistakes, apologize with humility, and then get back to work.”
A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations: 10:33 am
Panel was asked, what can we learn from religious leaders and traditions? Milagro Grullon, pastor of Community Christian Fellowship in Lawrence, Mass.: Clergy here joined in 1970s to address racism by forming the Asociacion Ministerial Evangelica Del Area de Lawrence (AMEDAL).
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:34 am
There’s also a tremendous amount of work to do as we push ourselves further as a community to apply an antiracist lens to our research and to policies at every level of the system,” said Waters.
A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations: 10:35 am
Grullon: Home to many immigrants, “Lawrence is a magnet for racial slurs and demeaning acts.… They have called poor Lawrence the city of the damned.” AMEDAL is Lawrence’s antiracism clergy group. “Spirituality has to show up in city hall, has to show up in our government everywhere,” Grullon said. “Humans are more than flesh. There is a spirit within them.” Youths of all faiths have heartened her by “standing against these crimes of racism.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:36 am
“Racial equity intersects with every discipline across the University and poses important and bold questions that will inform and enrich national dialogue and action in the coming weeks, months, and years,” said Gloria Waters, BU’s vice president and associate provost for research, who welcomed everyone to Research On Tap, which is the signature event series of the Office of Research that is typically held in person.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:36 am
The first of several presenters, André de Quadros, a BU professor of music, has spent a lot of time visiting prisons and similar facilities in Massachusetts, as a way of exploring how we continue to harm citizens of the United States. “Folks in prison know these facts, they know about police violence firsthand and they understand full well that the court and police system has no justice, treats the rich and poor differently,” he said, presenting a slide that shows how young people of color make up the majority of incarcerated people in America. Many of them, he said, are sentenced and condemned to die in prison.
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 10:37 am
“The take-home here should be that even though race is not a biological construct, still racism itself has real biological consequences,” said Karin Schon, a MED assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology. “The take-home message really should be from my perspective in the research that I am doing that racism is a public health crisis.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 10:38 am
Participants discussed mistakes they have made in their journeys. “One misstep I’ve made is talking too much,” said Emelia Benjamin, a School of Public Health professor of epidemiology and MED professor of medicine. “This is a journey and a daily practice of trying to be culturally humble.”
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 10:38 am
“We should all know that the Constitution of the United States was established by propertied white men,” said Gerald Leonard, a School of Law professor of law. “It did not establish a democracy, it was not intended to establish a democracy. It was intended to establish an entrenched kind of hierarchy in the law. And where there is lawful hierarchy, there is state violence.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 10:39 am
“Running the risk of making mistakes and learning from them is not something we’re taught in the educational system. I have so much to learn and so many blind spots,” said Ken Freeman, who was in a National Guard platoon and in the minority. “I learned the value of difference and the need for all of us to work together…an amazing lesson for me.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:40 am
Candice Belanoff, a School of Public Health clinical associate professor, takes over as the next Research on Tap presenter. One area of her research is preterm birth rates, and why Black mothers are more likely to give birth prematurely compared to non-Black mothers. “The impact of this thing that we call race is mediated by the experience and impact of racism, and that in turn contributes to the elevated risk of preterm birth,” Belanoff said.
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 10:40 am
Leonard, who is a scholar of critical law and legal history, began by saying, “Institutional racism we need to recognize is everywhere. This is not just BU looking out at the world, but we need to be looking at ourselves as an institution and understand that all of the history that I might be interested in unpacking implicates us here at BU as well as it implicates every other important institution in our society.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:41 am
Ty Furman, managing director of BU’s Arts Initiative: “I think that awareness of the idea of appropriation, is where you start—and don’t do it. You’ve got to do the work, you have to find the resources.”
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 10:41 am
Moderator asked about racism as a public health crisis. Donte Bernard was invited to speak. “It’s important to understand this idea of public health crisis,” he said. “So there’s some research to suggest that in education and housing, and access to resources policing, all of these different domains that Black folks in particular have to navigate and think about that disproportionately affect them are related or have these historical underpinning of racism or the mistreatment of folks. Typically we think of these day-to-day experiences, but we know it’s much more than that. ”
A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations: 10:42 am
Imam Asif Hirani, resident scholar at Worcester Islamic Center: The Prophet Mohammed connected racism in his day “to lack of knowledge, lack of education.” He promoted education (his last sermon said, “A white is not superior to a black,” nor Muslims to non-Muslims), practical application (he facilitated interracial marriages and gave leadership positions to different people of color), and “zero tolerance” for racist jokes, even among his associates. “I don’t know of any religion” that promotes racism, he noted.
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:42 am
Harvey Young, dean of the College of Fine Arts: “I think that the magic of the arts, the importance of the arts is, it’s essentially a form of storytelling, it’s a sharing of experiences. It’s your rendering raw, but also quite visible one’s emotional responses to the moment. It’s what attracted me as a theater historian to the study of the arts. It’s knowing that I’m learning about a cultural, social, political moment through the eyes of someone, so I think that when an artist is speaking personally and saying this is how I see the world, this is how I’m impacted by it. You know, then there’’s a real truth to it. If you’re trying to imagine someone else’s cultural subjectivity that’s not your own—you’re crossing the line toward appropriation pretty quickly.
“If it’s a case where someone’s doing imaginative fiction work right, or creative work where you’re trying to sort of vicariously, through your work, walk in the shoes of another person, be clear about your intentionality and what you’re doing so that your audience will understand how to approach it. But I do think that as long as it’s personal, as long as it’s real, and it connects to your own emotional truth, you’re going to be okay.”
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 10:43 am
“Democracy came to the United States as an ideology, really flowered in the US in the 1820s, but flowered only on the back of racial inequality, on the back of racial subordination,” Leonard said.
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 10:44 am
“I would say I’ve learned a lot from my students to try to understand what they need and try to help them succeed. They come from very diverse backgrounds and…my group has always valued that diversity,” said Kim McCall, a CAS professor and chair of biology.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:44 am
Christine Hamel, a CFA assistant professor of voice and acting, shared how she is researching voice through the lens of racial equity.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:45 am
“I have certain ethical considerations in my field, noticing that…certain voices are more likely to be…subject to vocal policing than others,” Hamel said. “So we’ve been looking to recontextualize voice by developing some theoretical principles that can be applied to many disciplines. One of our main conceptual frameworks is the idea of intervocality, which is that voice always emanates from and takes place in the context of…human relations.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:45 am
“And the one thing I will say is there will be times when people will make a mistake. And I don’t want someone’s anxiety about tripping a little bit to stop them from entering a conversation, you know, but as long as you are sort of owning your own truth, and then moving forward with some level of sincerity—hopefully a whole bunch of sincerity—you’ll be okay.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:46 am
“We’re looking at emerging antiracist approaches that acknowledge systemic cultural barriers and inequalities based on race, gender, and other socially constructed identity markers,” Hamel said.
Hamel’s research considers how the politicalization of breathing, and whose breathing, is stifled by systemic racism, impacts voice.
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 10:47 am
“It’s only in the 20th century and continuing into the 21st century that American law takes care, American policy takes care, to try to root out deliberate racial violence from the law. But what we know is that particularly in the criminal justice, what we have is the perfection of state-implemented racial violence in race-neural terms, but with much racially disparate effect.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:47 am
“Vocal justice requires attending to the social, political, and material conditions in which voices emerge, including a notion of respiratory responsibility that highlights the theory of breath and air as essentially building blocks of voice,” Hamel said. She said it requires acknowledging the politics that breathing has played, making certain spaces more breathable for non-Black people while less breathable for Black and non-Black people of color.
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 10:47 am
“As our new colleague,” Ibram X. Kendi said, “when you’re looking at these gross disparities, in my field in particular, the gross disparities in incarceration rates in this country, your choice is to say either Black Americans have brought all these disparities on themselves, somehow it’s their own fault…or you can look back on the history and say, ‘We have a system of law that was built explicitly on racial hierarchy more than 200 years ago, and that system has had an unbroken effect in causing these vast racial disparities throughout our history.’”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:47 am
Ty Furman: “I think one of the things that I’ve struggled with is sort of how overt I am about these issues.”
“And right now, there’s a challenge out there to be more direct about it and and say you know what I’m really trying to do is dismantle white supremacy and and be antiracist and we’ve had a conversation amongst our staff about how are we going to be more overt with the people we work with.
“You know, say we create a panel of experts right and we get suggestions for panelists. Those panelists cannot be all white men. We have to do the work in collaboration with our faculty partners to uncover other experts because there are other experts, other voices in that field, other people who are contributing to that conversation, and make sure that we’re having them contribute here.”
A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations: 10:48 am
Rabbi Elie Lehmann, BU’s Jewish chaplain and rabbi for its Hillel Campus: “Memory is history layered with meaning and puts demands on us.” As Passover commemorated Israel’s freedom from Egyptian bondage, “In every generation, each of us must see ourselves as personally having left Egypt,” obliging us not to oppress others. Jews are obliged to remember this every day, not just at Passover, and “to live out the creation of a more just world.” If we fail to protest current misconduct in the world, “we are responsible for that conduct and misconduct of the whole world.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:49 am
Christine Leider and Christina Dobbs, professors at Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, presented their work reflecting on the experiences of women of color in academia, a project they began after experiencing feelings of isolation. “As brown women from small rural towns, we didn’t fully relate or share experiences with our colleagues especially at a predominantly white institution,” said Leider. She and Dobbs wanted to find out if their experiences were shared by other women of color.
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 10:49 am
“We know that experiences of racism as a child can predict negative mental health outcomes when an individual is an adult,” said Donte Bernard, a postdoctoral scholar at Medical University of South Carolina. “There are experiences that suggest that experiences around racism at 10 or 12 can predict one’s mental status when they’re in their 20s. ” Children go online and experience racism too, don’t forget, he said. It affects their self-esteem, can lead to depression.
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 10:52 am
The panelists discussed how the purpose of stress hormones is to prepare our bodies for action. So, while that’s great if you are going for a run or when dealing with an emergency, it’s dangerous if you’re exposed to frequent stressors and don’t have much time to recover.
Bernard had earlier said that people of color experience on average five experiences of racism a day. “So what happens is your baseline starts to change, which is called allostatic load,” said Tessa Dover of Portland State University. “And that is when it gets dangerous; that is when it can predict all sorts of long-term health outcomes because of the relentless, frequent, and intense experience of racial stressors. ”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 10:53 am
“A colleague came to me and pointed out there were women and faculty of color whose voices were not acknowledged and their ideas were being co-opted, particularly by white men in the conversation,” said Stan Sclaroff, dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. “Sometimes you forget to pause and follow through in the facilitation of ideas and who is contributing them. If you don’t attend to this consistently it erodes participation…[t]he misstep there was not keeping your eye on the road during a heated discussion and remembering these important foundational commitments you make as a leader. I offered an apology and thanked the people who were coming forward.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:53 am
Derry Wijaya, CAS assistant professor of computer science, presented her research on framing analysis and how it can be used for detecting bias in media. “Framing is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them salient or not,” Wijaya said. “When a news reporter covers issues or incidents, they use certain perspectives while writing it, and these perspectives are called framing.”
A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations: 10:54 am
Reverend Daryl Paul Lobban, director of justice and advocacy for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington: “There are two Christianities today,” one which believes fighting for racial justice is political, non-Christian. “That is the religion about Jesus. But the religion of Jesus is those churches who feel called to fight for justice for all people, but in these times really Black and brown folks who have their backs against the wall but in some cases have knees on their necks.… Jesus would be out there marching.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:54 am
Harvey Young, dean of CFA: “But in terms of confederate monuments, I don’t think that there’s any reason for them to stand because they were never created as art pieces, you know they were created for the most part, to resist black liberation movements.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 10:56 am
Young: “The work of diversity and inclusion, the work of antiracism requires that you see it everywhere, you see it in the programs being produced, you see it in the speakers being invited in. The only way you can commit to excellence is by embracing diversity. We’re in the process right now of launching a strategic planning process, we’ll have diversity and inclusion as a big theme. We have committees working over the summer we’re going to continue that. I’ve been listening to our alumni who’ve been sharing in this moment their experiences of a lack of sensitivity, often within some classes across the College of Fine Arts and I think that that is going to prompt us to do a number of things. I’ve been receiving emails about students experiences and alumni experiences across the College of Fine Arts in the last week or so, in which they’re feeling like now’s a moment in which they can tell their stories that they haven’t actually told to anyone in administration, and I do think that my openness and my willingness to actually say we’re going to actually do these things can make a difference is allowing people to share their story. I had one case where a person emailed me and said, ‘You know, I didn’t feel like someone would listen to me until you were appointed.’”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:57 am
The subtle way in which framing presents racialized information is especially dangerous, Wijaya revealed. “In relation to biases, framing is important because as we are all aware, explicit expression of racial bias has become less socially acceptable in modern time,” Wijaya said.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 10:59 am
“Black, Latinx, and indigenous people have the highest incarceration rates of the country,” said Jessica Simes, CAS assistant professor of sociology. She pointed out the implications that incarceration rates have among affected communities and, in particular, how the harshest conditions of prison, such as solitary confinement, are heaped upon the most vulnerable members of society.
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 11:02 am
Donte Bernard stressed an important point: it’s important to know that not all Black individuals are affected the same way by discrimination. “We’re not a monolith,” he said. “There’s this idea of racial identity, and the idea is if one holds racism central to their self-context, that can actually serve as a shield against these effects of racial discrimination, especially when individuals expect it to come. If I know that some individuals, who don’t look like me , don’t feel positively about me and I feel positively about my own race, I might be more likely to make attributions as to why that happened. They don’t like me, they’re stupid, not me!”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:05 am
John Thornton, CAS professor of African American studies and history, is currently writing a book based on his research of Congo and its king from 1506 to 1542, Afonso I, and his historical attitudes toward the slave trade.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:06 am
“[Afonso] talks about giving slaves as gifts, and he talks about giving men to people who then go and buy slaves,” Thornton said. “He talks about setting up to purchase the slaves that he intended to capture in a war. So, this was a country that participated from the beginning, based on its own indigenous history, of moving people forcibly against their will from one place to another. … In 1526, [Afonso] addressed the slave trade directly in three letters that he wrote that year.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:08 am
Kim McCall said students need to feel safe and have a place to go to complain if injustices are done. Maybe the community can start grass roots efforts if the University is not yet ready to undertake. “We can make small changes at the department level,” McCall said. “I urge people to come with their ideas to department chairs.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:08 am
Harvey Young: “Let’s try to hold ourselves to a more rigorous standard and let’s make ourselves do more…. Why does BU not have a jazz program? Let’s have that conversation. Why not have a more extensive hip hop studies program—we have some classes but why not have more of that?”
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 11:09 am
Q&A portion starts. One listener asked to hear more about the direct effects of racism on health outcomes. Tessa Dover answered the question bluntly, listing some of the ways that it is unhealthy to be Black. For instance, stress from police violence and bias from healthcare providers. “We know that Black Americans get lower quality healthcare, less access to healthcare, their pain gets treated less aggressively, a lower quality of care, their symptoms are taken less seriously,” she said.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:08 am
Congo rulers following Afonso’s reign also had sustained interest in the slave trade, and their control in it, according to Thornton’s research. “We also had correspondence by later kings more or less affirming the same thing—[a] willingness to participate in the external slave trade [with Portugal] but very much conscious that they wanted to control this, and that they wanted to make sure that they had the sort of power to decide who was and was not sent out [of the country as enslaved people],” Thornton said.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:09 am
Jonathan Feingold, School of Law associate professor, noted a recent win for antiracism in the courts: “Just about 10 days ago, the state of Michigan reached a settlement with students from several Detroit public schools, schools that serve predominantly low-income Black and brown students. The students were challenging the conditions they face in their schools,” Feingold said. “Lawsuits like this are rare, and they’re rare in part because the Supreme Court has effectively whittled away the claims that students and their communities can bring to challenge their educational
conditions as being inadequate or unequal.
“Just for the settlement itself, [in favor of the students], we should mark it because it is a win, and it’s a win we wouldn’t have but for the students in the communities behind them,” Feingold said.
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:11 am
“Staff have a very important role to play—they see things, they hear things and can provide important information about the pulse,” Sclaroff said, noting it’s a path toward change.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:13 am
Kevin Lang, CAS professor of economics, said that Black people are more likely to be monitored in the workplace and therefore are more likely to be fired. “The higher rate of firing [of Black employees]…therefore makes it seem rational to monitor Blacks more heavily,” he said, which doubles down on creating further disparity for Black employees.
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:14 am
Harvey Young: “With BUTI, the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, we’re mindful of the fact that in the area of classical music—you go to your latest symphony orchestra concert and look at the stage of musicians, you will notice that there’s a lack of underrepresented minority artists on that stage. We’re kind of confident classical music will be around 300 years from now, and that people will be going to symphonies. So, how do we actually change the look of that orchestra? So what BUTI is doing, really Hilary Respass, who’s the executive director of BUTI, is they have been working with a number of programs that work with underrepresented young students to help mentor them through the process. In cases where cost is a barrier, they are doing a lot of work, and people are welcome to join this effort, you know, to create scholarships for underrepresented students with financial need to be able to participate in the program. So, that’s one way in which a new pipeline is being built to bring in more people.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:15 am
Emelia Benjamin said being in a male-dominated field, in cardiology, a male-dominated specialty—and one not especially diverse—once you’ve achieved educational stature, “it’s easy to point out something problematic than someone earlier in their career who’s more vulnerable.”
She said you don’t want to be seen as a person using your position to “rob other people of their ability to move things forward…. There definitely are racist policies. Mostly, people don’t walk into work thinking I’m going to be racist, sexist, or homophobic today.… Microphenomena just wear people down. Some people say it trivializes the much more structural racism.
“In terms of something every single person can do, whether a staff person, etc., is when they see a microaggression, they can say something. My big Achilles heel, when I’m tired or frustrated or angry, my better judgement is diminished. I hired a coach who said, ‘Do you want to be right or be effective?’…. Calling people out does not work. People become profoundly defensive—hearts and minds are not changed.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:16 am
“The layoff hazard for Blacks, the risk of being laid off is initially higher for Blacks, but as we increase seniority, the risks converge for Blacks and for whites,” said Lang, making this disparity difficult to escape, since the higher firing rate for early-career Black employees means that less Black people will get promoted to a relatively safer management position.
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:18 am
“How do we develop a process where we no longer appoint people to positions without an open search?” Benjamin asked. “If we step back, that is the culture that is what we all see. That is an example of trying to lead by curiosity.… Asking what are people’s values, how do we move forward, how do we do better next time?”
Research On Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:19 am
“State support for a racist position makes committing atrocities much easier and it makes opposition more difficult,” said Timothy Longman, CAS associate professor of political science who reflected on the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when 500,000 people were killed.
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:19 am
“In the United States, our national government at times has tried to commit itself to being more proactive and stopping violence and racism and promoting civil rights. At the moment, that’s not the case,” said Longman, pointing out that atrocities are not inevitable, historically speaking. “The level of violence can be reduced if people speak out, if religious leaders speak out, and proper protest can make a difference.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:21 am
“What I’m seeing right now gives me hope because people are speaking up and are acting, and this speaking up against atrocities can be effective and can bring real change to a society,” Longman concluded.
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:24 am
Ty Furman: “I consider myself a theatre artist. I do not feel that it is my privilege to tell any story I want to. I just don’t think that’s the case. I think if I use my power and privilege to uncover those storytellers, who are coming from their personal experience, or from a history, that’s the way I want to do it.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:28 am
“In my experience, shame is a very ineffective, bad pedagogical method,” Benjamin said of microaggressions. “Sometimes the people who are most destructive are the white allies who do the white gotcha: ‘I caught ya being racist!’ It doesn’t move the conversation forward.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:31 am
“We had 700 applicants to our last [faculty] opening,” McCall said. “We had less than 10 applicants of color. The problem is very big.” She said she’s committed to talking to people early in their careers and going to conferences to recruit directly. “I think it’s the personal touch with students of color and inviting them to seminars.… I think the pipeline is there. We need to talk to students about academic careers, introducing students to research early on and the value of academic research. As a woman in science, I didn’t have a single woman science professor, not in high school, not in college. Not one. Role models are really important.”
Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History: 11:35 am
Wrapping up the session, Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean and professor at LAW, asked the panelists what law students and lawyers could do to bring about change and fight racial injustice.
“What the folks on the streets who are calling for defunding the police are recognizing is that while legal change can matter,” Leonard said, “what fundamentally needs to be done is a change in institutions.”
Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism: 11:35 am
Donte Bernard addressed clinicians who are listening who may feel uncomfortable talking about racism or race. They can say something like, “I know I’m not an expert here, but I want you to know I’ve opened this space up for us to talk about anything and everything,” and “I want to acknowledge that last night a Black man was murdered; how are you dealing with that?
“That simple question opens the door and invites a new discussion that can bring a whole new side, not only to the client but you as a clinician, into the room,” he said.
“I think it’s important that we start those conversations and not overburden our clients and expect them to open up the conversation.
Offering that space can be very validating.
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:36 am
“We have to think creatively about ways to make more rapid progress on diversifying faculty,” Sclaroff said.
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:37 am
Harvey Young: “One thing that we did within CFA quite concretely is we created FA100, which is a class that has all first year undergraduate students, and then that will serve as a place where we would have conversations around race and inclusion in the arts. Hopefully, students will take those lessons with them and they will help to inform the choices they make in the classes they take and what they go to and see over the next four years.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:37 am
“Within HR, there certainly has been a lot of effort in the talent acquisition area in terms of hiring a diverse workforce,” Ken Freeman said. “What my colleagues in HR would say it’s just the beginning, not the end. We have a long ways to go…[but] I believe this is a movement for us to have a new beginning and my colleagues believe that as well. This is an all-white panel—our Black colleagues are feeling tremendous stress and strain and believe this may be another false start in this country—and [at] this University, potentially. Stand up with those of like minds to transform the culture of Boston University. It’s going to take rays of light…. That collective role where we change, make change, that system that comes from the bottom up, as well as the top down.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:40 am
Harvey Young: “One thing that’s important in the arts is to be wary of the damage and the danger caused by tradition. I think that too often, we associate a tradition with high cultural value that then stands in opposition to an ability to do the work of diversity inclusion.”
Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism and Antiracism: 11:43 am
During the Q&A portion, Christina Dobbs pointed out the importance of finding ways to participate in antiracist work where the risk feels manageable—“and sometimes that can be scary,” she said.
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:43 am
“We have to address the structural racism that’s in the academy—the way we create hierarchy of institutions and in the field,” Benjamin said. “This is an example I’m really humiliated about…. I reviewed an application that came out of a prestigious lab and I reconstructed the application as stronger than it actually was. We all have to question ourselves every day.”
The Arts and Antiracist Practices: 11:44 am
Ty Furman: “Partly why I love being in this context of higher education is that we have these conversations. I continue to be on this journey of just completely rethinking the way I was trained.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:46 am
“We are all still learning. I don’t think anyone on this panel thinks we’re a white savior.… We really want to work together, all of us, in making BU more inclusive and supporting people of color throughout this whole movement,” McCall said, “and keep the movement going. I think we all feel like we’re making real progress right now.”
A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership: 11:47 am
“We need to be resilient,” Freeman said. “We need to be courageous.”
Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum: 12:46 pm
Karen Hendricks, moderator and CFA associate professor of music and chair of music education: “Effective pedagogy is that which is inclusive,” incorporating the diverse strengths of students. “All individuals are valued. [But] University knowledge systems remain rooted in colonial and Western-centric worldviews.”
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 12:47 pm
“When I think about diversity, it’s really about identity work, who we are, why that matters, differences that make a difference,” said Tiffany Enos, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Questrom School of Business. “Inclusion, on the other hand is our environment, our sense of belonging and what are we doing to provide spaces for community. This year we added equity to talk about access, how we do things and meet individual needs and understanding a systemic nature of diversity and inclusion. Bridging those three things is about community, capacity building, and making sure that we are making sure we are enacting our values.”
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 12:47 pm
Jorge Delva, dean of the School of Social Work, opens the session on undertaking antiracist work outside of the academy by saying social work is focused on social justice. “If we’re not focused on antiracist practice,” he said, “we’re not focusing on social justice.”
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice: 12:47 pm
Michelle DeBiasse, Sargent College of Rehabilitation & Health Sciences professor and director of programs in nutrition, started off the session by stating some data about racism in the medical field. When in pain, white people receive higher doses of analgesics—a type of painkiller—than Black people. Looking at 2007 to 2012 data on pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births reveals a 3.2 times higher death rate for non-Hispanic Black women versus non-Hispanic white women, DeBiasse said. And with increasing age, this disparity rose to 5.1 times higher in non-Hispanic Black versus non-Hispanic white women. Black students comprised 7.3 percent of medical school graduates in 2019. And, DeBiasse said, nearly all chronic diseases are higher in prevalence and severity in Blacks than in whites.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 12:54 pm
Anthony Harrison (COM’81) said, “When I think about my time on campus, the late ’70s, early ’80s, while Boston was absolutely one of the most racist cities on Earth at that time, I actually was fortunate that I was in a bit of a bubble at the University. And was able to sort of escape the racism that was existing in the world and felt very supported in terms of the community, and some of my closest friends are people that I met in my dormitory in freshmen year.”
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 12:50 pm
It’s “arduous work,” said Rady Roldan-Figueroa, director of diversity and inclusion and School of Theology associate professor of the history of Christianity. And, he added, he would not have taken up his position as director of diversity and inclusion—work that brings with it inevitable criticism—before he had earned tenure. “You need institutional protection to do this work,” he said, “and for me that institutional protection is tenure.”
Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum: 12:46 pm
Yvette Cozier, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion and School of Public Health associate professor of epidemiology: Public health providers study barriers to health access, which requires difficult conversations. SPH has a school-wide program that reads one book to “facilitate conversation and discussion by providing a common language” about discrimination in public health and other areas from which health providers might learn. “We mail books to all incoming students,” who begin discussing during Orientation. The coming academic year’s read, There Goes the Neighborhood, details prejudice against immigrants to America.
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 12:52 pm
Roldan-Figueroa said this work began at the School of Theology with he and a group of others putting together a diversity statement—a statement of common ground. “It involved conversations with faculty, students, and staff,” he said. “We discovered important partnerships. I personally discovered how invested the staff at the School of Theology—and this is probably true around the University—is on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Staff involvement is key, he said.
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 12:57pm
The diversity statement became a leverage for moving the University forward and for continuing discussions. “We keep reflecting on the statement and it keeps leading to very lively conversations,” Roldan-Figueroa said.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 12:57pm
D. A. Whatley (Questrom’15), now president of the BU Young Alumni Council, recalled an incident at a party while he was a student. He recalled that a white man kept trying to engage him in conversation. The man was asked to leave, and was escorted away. “It turns out that the individual…had said something quite startling…. And the guy’s words were, you know, ‘back where I’m from, we lynch N-words like you.’ Now, this is simply, you know, me having a conversation—not wanting to engage in a conversation with someone. I didn’t—I was jokingly trying to just brush him aside. It wasn’t me trying to be rude. At least not intentionally to this individual whom I shared several classes with, and to my knowledge, we were at least good associates. But internally, it’s, like, gosh. Now I see this person all the time. You know, should I be concerned when I’m walking by myself on campus? You know, who else does he know that feels this way? And an overwhelming amount of emotions just filled me. And it took me back to just thinking about how, you know, as a person of color, especially with the stereotype of the angry Black man, you know, how do I react to this situation? Do I retaliate? You know, let my emotions get out? I attended BU on a full tuition merit leadership scholarship. I came to campus to, you know, to be an example of leadership. And I didn’t want to lose that just by, you know, expressing my emotions like that. So, then I was like, well, okay. Do I educate? Do I elevate? Do I just kind of cast this aside? Eventually I just decided, okay, I’m just going to enjoy the rest of my evening. I’m not going to let this get to me. But it was a really, really just harsh thing to hear simply because I wouldn’t discuss—I wouldn’t engage in the conversation with him. ”
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 1:00pm
Douglas Luke, SSW director of finance and administration, talked about racial equity and the importance of acknowledging past and present inequities. He asked, what’s next? It’s not enough, he said, to not be racist: “We must be antiracist.” Dawn Belkin Martinez, a SSW clinical associate professor and associate dean for equity and inclusion, followed by connecting racism and housing injustice. “Evictions, foreclosures, and rising rents,” she said, “are all Black issues.”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:00pm
“I’m a Black woman, so my existence is political,” said Jessica Hamilton, a STH grad student who works with the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, and is committed to her research involving social equity and the cannabis market. “Every day, I’m maneuvering systems and structures and even traditions that never contemplated my existence or knowing or using my voice. Because I’m forced to process through my body I approach with an awareness of self and commitment to following what doesn’t seem quite right.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:01 pm
Pauline Jennett (STH’05, Wheelock’17): “And often students of color in the research arena are encouraged not to research things about ethnicity and their passion.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:03 pm
Jennett added, “And I just want to take a moment just to read the definition of microaggression. It’s a common daily verbal, behavioral and environmental communication, whether intentional or unintentional that transmits hostile derogatory or negative messages to target a person.”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:05pm
The law has followed an egregious role in perpetuating injustice, said Sarah Sherman-Stokes, a LAW lecturer and clinical instructor. “It is our job as teachers, law professors, lawyers, to really interrogate the role that the law has played in creating and perpetuating injustice,” she said. “We have to acknowledge the system in which we operate is built on a hierarchy of racism, injustice, and oppression. That has allowed some of the things we see today to go on for so long.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:06pm
Joel Christian Gill (CFA’04), a cartoonist and an associate professor of illustration at Mass Art, said he came to BU from southwestern Virginia. “One of my first conversations with anybody Black who was from Boston…[they] started to tell me this really interesting story about all of these neighborhoods I should not go in. Like, don’t go to this neighborhood. Stay out of this one. Don’t go here. Now, remember, I grew up in a place where there was, like, I could point to the place where the Klan met. And then I come to the place that is this bastion of liberalism and people are telling me not to go into these different neighborhoods and areas.”
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice: 1:06 pm
Cassandra Pierre, a MED assistant professor, associate hospital epidemiologist at Boston Medical Center (BMC), and chair of BMC’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, researches infection prevention in vulnerable populations.
Her clinical interests include HIV management in special subpopulations, such as immigrants of color and transactional sex workers.
“When you look at the numbers [of white versus non-white clinicians in medical fields] and the discrepancy between them, you can tell this is not just something that happened passively,” Pierre said. “It didn’t happen as an accident.
It was a choice. It is the effect of structural racism.”
Pierre presents strategies for retaining and promoting underrepresented racial and ethnic groups (URG) for medical faculty.
“We know having URG physicians improves the potential for having patients participate in clinical trials,” Pierre continued, an effect that is “really essential, especially for patients belonging to marginalized populations,” who are disproportionately underrepresented in clinical trials typically dominated by white patients.
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 1:06 pm
Crystal Williams said that when she first began doing diversity work at a small liberal arts college, more than 20 years ago, she wanted to get “everybody onboard on the train,” [to make the institution more diverse, equitable, and inclusive], but that she has since accepted that some people will never get on the train—or will even enter the train station.
Now, Williams said, she thinks about trying to work with roughly 30 percent of the people “who are either already on the train
or leaning toward getting on the train actively engaged because that’s how we change culture and that’s how we move the agenda forward. And I think in a 10-person faculty department, if we have four people who are deeply effective allies, we can transform the culture in that department.
Five is ideal, eight is ideal, 10 is great—but I can work with four.”
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice: 1:07 pm
Samantha Kaplan, a MED assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, pointed out the racist history of medical education that stems from slavery in the United States.
In this painting, Dr. James Marion Sims (the “father” of modern gynecology infamous for his inhumane treatment of Black patients) treats a Black woman in an early American clinic. If any of the medical trainees treating this woman had been people of color, Kaplan said, they would have disputed the long-standing Antebellum idea that Black people don’t feel as much pain as white people. Historically, many gynecological and other medical procedures were performed on Black enslaved people without the use of analgesics or anesthesia.
“I point these out because while we have come pretty far from something that is this blatantly atrocious, we still are perpetrating racist teaching in our medical education. Oftentimes, without recognizing it,” Kaplan said.
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 1:10pm
Judith Scott, a SSW assistant professor, talked about her time as a clinical social worker in Lynn, Mass. There, she found the interventions designed to serve a multicultural population—to help them parent or deal with trauma—were not a fit for their cultures. Scott connected that to how interventions to support families and address trauma are focused more on the “white experience rather than the multicultural experience.” Translating that to communities, she said, is problematic. We fail to address that systemic racism if “we are not doing the work of looking into communities that are being marginalized and lifting up their voices.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:11pm
Joel Gill (CFA’04) discussed the racism he faced while living in what is widely considered a progressive city, saying, “Boston, as a city, as a town, as a culture, is something that if you’re not from Boston and you come there, especially if you come from the South, because you come from a place that’s blatantly racist in, like, specific areas and, like, being able to know those things. And you come, you end up being super shocked by the fact that there are neighborhoods that you should not go in or walk by yourself or you know spend any time in.”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:12pm
In his introduction, Spencer Piston, CAS professor of political science, gave reasons for wanting to disband the BU police department, saying the University should cut ties with the Boston police and Aramark.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:14pm
Ina Joseph (COM’20), who just graduated, said, “Upon arriving on campus, even though I didn’t see that many Black and brown faces just walking up and down Comm Ave, I kind of felt like I was in this Mecca of diversity compared to where I was coming from, compared to my hometown. So it really was over the years that I started to kind of become disillusioned with BU as an institution and the kind of culture it creates around talking about racism, talking about diversity and inclusion. ” She continued, “Over time, it became clearer and clearer to me and more poignant in my experiences in and out of the classroom that there’s only a 5.8 percent Black faculty on campus. There are no Black therapists, and there are very few therapists of color in behavioral health and the other health-oriented entities on campus. And most importantly, what really drew my attention especially as an RA and as someone who was engaging in a lot of leadership roles on campus, whenever conversations about race, diversity, equity, and inclusion came up, it was always students of color and particularly Black students who were leading those conversations. ”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:17 pm
Jessica Hamilton talked about decolonizing the curriculum, which her copanelists thoroughly, passionately agreed with. “In my department, every person teaching American politics is white, including me,” Spencer Piston said. “It sends messages about who has the intellectual authority to talk about race in American politics and who does not.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:23 pm
Jonathan Priester (COM’10) discussed his time on campus, saying, “Many of the things that we see time and time again, generation and generation again, I remember during my time. That in 2008, again, that was the campaign, the election of President Obama during my time there. There was the election of Deval Patrick and seeing the movement of students both on campus and across the city and seeing the pushback in both of those instances.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:25 pm
Jonathan Priester (COM’10) said, “At the end of the day, we have to really start thinking about equity. We have to think about justice. And we have to think about belonging—what allows people to build that sense of belonging? ”
Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum: 1:25 pm
Megan Sullivan, associate dean for faculty development at the College of General Studies and director of BU’s Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning: “BU’s Inclusive Pedagogy Initiative, which I cochair, gathered faculty across disciplines. A MED committee will assess how racism and medicine is taught in the curriculum; the BU Hub, the general education requirement, includes diversity and global citizenship as one of the capacities that students must acquire; and other schools and programs have their own programs. The next kind of generation of assessment is equitable assessment” of students, and includes students, to check for biases. Research shows faculty instruction in transparent assessment enhances learning for all students, especially among underrepresented minority groups.
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice: 1:25 pm
Laura Driscoll is a Sargent clinical assistant professor and the college’s director of faculty diversity and inclusion.
She is a physical therapist and geriatric certified specialist.
As a PhD student, her work focused on examining inequities in health, particularly aging populations in prisons.
“What truly factors into your health?
Healthcare and health behaviors are half of the story,” Driscoll said. “People can follow all the rules and behave in health promoting ways, but the forces of the physical environment and socioeconomic factors are equally as important. We have to consider the contexts of the environment.
The social determinants of health are conditions that shape access to conditions of daily life—the circumstances in which people grow, work, live, and age.”
Driscoll also said that a person’s life course, and what they experience happening around them, can have a profound impact on human health. “The social integration of what happens to you or your family unit and the community unit and those around you,” Driscoll said, impacts individual and community health. “Higher levels of incarceration of Black people results in immediate long-term psychological and financial impact on the family and communities’ health and wealth—[add that on top of] state sanctioned violence on the individual.”
“Racism works on multiple levels—it can have a significant impact on health outcomes,” Driscoll said. “Structural racism can be described as a macro-level system, social forces, institutions, ideologies, and processes that interact with one another and generate and reinforce inequities.
The term structural racism emphasizes the most influential levels at which racism may affect racial and ethnic health inequalities.
Driscoll said we need to shift away from talking about race, which has no biological basis, when looking at health outcomes. Instead, we need to focus on racism, and the effect that racism has on health.
“When we see statistics like higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, rather than jump to individual behaviors, can we examine the social structural conditions that might be at play?” Driscoll stressed.
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 1:25 pm
The speakers focus on the disconnect between higher education, the academy, and communities and their needs, reminding the audience to value the knowledge that people outside of academia have. Often, academics go into communities to extract knowledge, they said, rather than viewing it as a partnership. In one example, Judith Scott said that despite hundreds of years of racism, “There is absolutely no evidence of a good intervention that can help about racial trauma.” In talking about what comes next, Dawn Belkin Martinez said, “All of us should join the movement for justice.” And, she added, we should take the lead from people who are most affected.
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 1:26 pm
Williams said that from her perspective, the work of diversity, equity and inclusion “is relevant to everything—hiring, retention, promotion, education, everything that we can think about that exists in our world. And yet people, because they don’t fully understand the concept, limit and frame it in relation to race or gender or LGBTQ, or whatever it is, and therefore
feel alienated from it. I think that’s our failure as practitioners. We don’t
talk expansively enough about these issues.”
Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum: 1:26 pm
Takeo Rivera, CAS assistant professor of English and a core member of BU’s Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies: “What does decolonizing the curriculum actually mean?” These are: “ways the white settler colonial thought” dominate the curriculum; “there’s an invisible knapsack of privilege,” for example, in the idea of a “canon” of literature inflected by race and other prejudices. “Those who were more normal were more human.” The idea of canon must be challenged. “I’ve taken only small steps” in, for example, teaching playwrights of color up front in coursework. BU must ask itself how to decolonize when it collaborates with police to keep homeless people away off campus and practices other oppressive measures.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:30 pm
Anthony Harrison said, “I am a person that advises toward action, and so I’m done with the hand wringing, and the posts of thoughts and prayers, and sympathy, and pain and anger on social media, and really want to focus on specific and actionable things.”
A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners: 1:35 pm
What can allies and advocates do to help? The question is from the audience. “The provost mentioned in her opening statement that she and some other members of her cabinet—we’ve created a book group and every six weeks we meet and read a serious text,” Williams said. “And then we talk about it and we’re often left depleted and upset and confused. But I suggested that group because it’s important that leaders, especially, have a firm understanding of social and cultural issues that we live with in the academy.”
“There are multiple things that allies within departments can do,” Williams said. “So, maybe you don’t want to read an 800-page book in a book group. But you can in every department meeting have an article. You can subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed—there are a host of auxiliary publications that have to do with diversity in the academy. And you can begin to have conversations about those. You can read research—and you can then talk about the results of those studies; what are the impacts of those results on the day-to-day operations of the institution?”
Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum: 1:37 pm
Davena Jackson, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical assistant professor of English education: “I taught Black Detroit students for 24 years,” and “I have witnessed…systemic oppression.” “Justice-oriented learning” requires, among other measures, “racially and culturally diverse voices in writing” presented in class, and asking yourself if you’re only teaching about people of color as they’re “steeped in pain,” stripped of other contexts. “Educators should affirm black students’ lives as a means to affirm their humanity.”
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice 1:40pm
David Coleman, a MED professor and chair of medicine, researches medical and civic professionalism in medical education and clinical practice.
“As we begin to frame this action plan, I think it’s very important that we think beyond the moral imperative that is so compelling to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Coleman said, “and think also about the fact that no department, no school, no university, no organization can truly achieve greatness without having more diversity and inclusion.
We know that from many, many studies of organizational behavior and more broadly in biological systems.
Diversity improves performance.”
Coleman acknowledged that, as Cassandra Pierre said earlier, “a particular issue on our campus…is that we are much less diverse than our patients or society.”
“I think it’s really important to emphasize that the majority, people who look like me, must own the change,” Coleman said. “It is not something that we can or should contemplate franchising out to underrepresented groups.
It is a problem created largely by the majority and, therefore, one that we own in terms of changing.”
In the department of medicine, Coleman said, “we are trying very hard not just to talk the talk but to walk the walk.” That means creating an environment with zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior, he said. In addition to infusing much of the department’s activities with diversity and inclusion initiatives and metrics, Coleman said the department is developing bystanding training to better equip allies with tools for fighting racism and discrimination, and is launching an antiracism book club.
“It’s time to take chances and try new initiatives, that may or may not work, but that have the potential to create a more inclusive, more equitable, and diverse environment as a way to combat the intrinsic racism that is all too prevalent within clinical medicine,” Coleman said.
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 1:41 pm
An audience member asks about the white savior narrative, the fear that people who want to fight racism may have about becoming involved. Dawn Belkin Martinez reminded people to take their “lead from the people that are most oppressed by whatever system of oppression you’re addressing.” Be in the learning position, she said. Linda Sprague Martinez, a SSW associate professor and chair of the macro department, advised academics not to think, “What am I here to fix?” But to consider, “What am I here to learn?” Academia is about knowledge production, she said, but needs to be reconciled with knowledge for advancing justice. Judith Scott recommended volunteering with critical self-examination and humility, an understanding that you might feel uncomfortable in a space and admitting that you may not know much about a community. As SSW Dean Jorge Delva put it, be able to say, “I don’t know, teach me, help me.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:46 pm
Jonathan Priester (COM’10) said, “I think we also have to make sure that we acknowledge the fundamental role that Black alums, faculty, and staff have played in building the institution itself and making it as prominent as it has been. Oftentimes we think about—we can name several of the more famous alums. Many of the professors that have graced Boston University’s hallways, they are some of the leading scholars in their field, and they are Black.”
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:48 pm
Jonathan Priester (COM’10) said, “Boston University is not the Boston University we know today without the contributions of countless and many who have gone unnamed—black contributors. And I think that’s something we have to make sure that we keep really centralized in this conversation.”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:53 pm
Performative “wokeness,” a term we keep hearing on Twitter, is a concern we need to be aware of, said Cati Connell, a CAS associate professor of sociology.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:53 pm
Anthony Harrison (COM’81) said he feels optimistic, “because these conversations are happening, and happening way beyond just a bunch of Black folks talking. I have had tough conversations with more of my white friends and colleagues in the last two weeks than I have had in my entire adult life. And people are listening, and they are asking, and they are taking the hard feedback. And they are doing the work. They are not asking me to hold their hand. They are not asking me to guide them. They are doing the work. And so that is why I personally am feeling optimistic that things will change in some way at this moment. The extent of that change, TBD. But this moment does feel different.”
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 1:55 pm
The panelists were asked to think about their main takeaways. Douglas Luke started with a hope that academics express their feelings and “make a call for action.” Instead of changing people to fit the organization, he said, “we should focus on transforming our organization to fit all people.” Dawn Belkin Martinez warned of the toxicity of individualism and having to be an expert. The fear of not being an expert, she said, may hold people back from becoming involved in a movement, but they need to deconstruct that. “I think that we actively need to be putting race and racial equity at the forefront of everything we do…. We’re swimming in it. We need to push the water in front of us and start to name it. ” Linda Sprague Martinez echoed that, encouraging people to think about who their actions might harm and how they can learn from and elevate those who are most impacted. She said academics need to ask if what they’re doing works for those who are most marginalized.
Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus: 1:57 pm
Jonathan Prister (COM’10) said, “There’s a saying that really rings with me in this moment: Don’t be more involved with the dream than you are with the work to make that dream a reality. ”
Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice: 1:59 pm
Jessica Hamilton: “I hope folks are taking this time, this pause, to do their own reflective work about their experiences, to interrogate their own complicity in these systems that perpetuate harm, violence, oppression, racism. I’m doing a lot of work in sort of uncovering things I have let slide because I didn’t want to be labeled as difficult. I hope everyone is taking time to do that work, to reflect, to read, to get to know some of the sources that BU sent out.”
Practices & Ways to Undertake Antiracist Work Outside of the Academy: 2:00 pm
Judith Scott advised those watching to speak out, to provide a counter narrative to people in the academy, to “raise up those other narratives that we need to hear.” She warned that “being silent is the deadliest killer of hope and action and it is the strongest thing to support systemic racism.” The experience of being a Black woman is never comfortable, she said. It shouldn’t be like that, but if other people are willing to be uncomfortable, “I can be more comfortable in my skin when I enter those spaces.”
Racism & Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice 2:00pm
A viewer asked panelists to share their thoughts on how to navigate cultural curiosity. “We want people to engage, we want people to have discussions, to learn more about each other,” said Cassandra Pierre. “And obviously there can be some concerns about the way that we handle that, the way we ask questions. Part of antiracist conversation setting and theory is going into conversations, knowing that some conversations will be difficult. But , expecting that the other person has the best intentions…that they are truly curious.” Of course, Pierre said, that necessitates being in a space where you know that to be true: “People should ask questions in respectful ways. The other side of that, though, is to take responsibility for your own actions if you offend or hurt someone.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:20pm
Morrison on why BU decided to hire Ibram X. Kendi and start an antiracism center: “We’ve been in the throes of the University’s Strategic Plan development. The task force of faculty and staff who are working on this—one of the things that repeatedly emerged [from] listening sessions was that an effort at the University, and a scholarly research-based effort around social, racial justice, was an important part of the ideas that emerged around those discussions.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:27pm
Morrison on lack of diversity in BU’s graduate students:Many graduate programs have dropped the GRE as an admissions requirement, as “it’s largely recognized as a piece of information that historically has kept people out, [but] the correlation between scores and performance, particularly in PhD education, is very weak. But more importantly, it’s going to take a lot of work in changing the culture and environment,” with faculty making sure “they’re creating an environment that is supportive and welcoming of those students. Ultimately, it takes a commitment on the part of the faculty to want to achieve a more diverse cohort.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:30pm
Morrison on how BU will address microaggressions: “That really points towards mandatory training, and that’s an issue we’re having important conversations about. We want to make sure we do it properly when we do it.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:37pm
Morrison on how BU will redress lack of diverse faculty and staff: Since 2015, BU has compiled “annual and cumulative” data on the faculty’s racial and ethnic diversity, and since 2016-17, the number of faculty of color has risen from 193 to 273. That real but “slow progress” owes to key facts, including that, “in any given year, there’s only about 5 percent turnover in all of our faculty. So the number of opportunities we have is small compared to the overall size of the faculty.” Also, “faculty hiring is the purview of the faculty in their departments in their schools and colleges,” and “we’ve got to do more” for diversity.
Staff hiring is done differently, via Human Resources and school/department leaders. “We have to have information and training available” for diverse hiring.
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:47pm
How do you reconcile that BU hosted Ben Shapiro last year and hosted this Day of Engagement today? President Brown: “We believe in free speech. We are a university. We are a place of different opinions. I think it’s important that we don’t close our ears to any part of the conversation.”
Morrison: BU endorses free speech, and “a commitment to ensure there are opportunities for additional speech as well,” as happened when other speakers countered Shapiro’s values.
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:50pm
Will BU do a campus survey about campus racism? “We’ve been in discussions for a while about such a survey. It’s a big undertaking,” said Morrison. “We want to make sure, as we craft such a survey, we have the right framing and the right questions. That is something we are in active conversations about.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:56pm
Does the University have plans to mark Juneteenth in some way? President Brown said, “There are plans in the works for a major academic symposium, although it may not be on Juneteenth. The question is how to keep the energy from fading. If we make this an annual symposium, that is the kind [of] pulse needed to keep the energy going.”
Morrison: “The answer to that is a resounding yes—details to follow.”
A Conversation with President Brown and Provost Morrison 2:58pm
Morrison on how students can get involved in antiracism discussions on campus: As Ibram X. Kendi launches BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, “there will be plenty of opportunities for people to raise their hands around that.” The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground also provides a space for such conversations. “We’ll make sure there are a lot of communications available on the Web [to] advertise the opportunities.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #3: 3:15 pm
Raul Fernandez, associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Wheelock: “Whenever I get to sit down with Dr. Kendi and have a beer with him…I want to know about how [we can] adopt policies that will actually make a difference, in terms of generational wealth building…mass incarceration. How do we do that considering the current constraint of our laws? I’d like to speak to the [law] dean about that too.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #3: 3:18 pm
Lynda Rieman said a major takeaway from the day was the idea that justice is down the road: “It’s a very different way for me to think about it. Where are we in a long arc of fixing the obvious problem?”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #3: 3:23 pm
Fernandez encouraged participants not to have a bunker mentality and said he’s been thinking about what our sense of responsibility for change is. “Many of us feel compelled because of who we are and how racism affects us directly,” he said. “We need to figure out how everyone feels that sense of responsibility, that sense of urgency. That we don’t want to wait another 50 years for progress.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #2: 3:25pm
BU Police Lieutenant Dan Healy said he’s proud to be a part of the BU community forum. “Today the takeaway is being a part of antiracism. The most challenging thing is to be in the policing industry. To hear about the pain, it’s tough, and we’re looking for ways we can help with the healing and the way forward.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #2: 3:37pm
Kenn Elmore, associate provost and dean of students: “Words just matter so much. Saying exactly what we mean when we talk about this might mean so much. Maybe words like ‘diversity’ just don’t do it anymore. We’re talking about a crisis with Black folk, and maybe we just need to say that.… In this effort to be neat, clean, maybe we mess things up by not just saying what we mean.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #2: 3:43 pm
Wheelock alum Akeda Hunter asked why the university focuses on prevention instead of dismantling. She said she had her worst experiences of racism at BU, where she was called a racial slur while walking down the street, raised issues with RAs that did not get addressed, and faced problems getting proper medical attention. Listening to the day’s panels, she said she still felt “so silenced” and wanted to know how BU prepares students for those situations. “I feel like today, we still miss something and there are more things we need to talk about.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #1: 3:54 pm
Karen Antman, dean of MED, asked participants about their hopes and wishes for the new center on antiracist studies. How are we going to integrate it within the 17 different schools at BU?
Some suggested the names of books to read, campus-wide live Zoom sessions with Kendi or the leveraging of faculty expertise of BU’s campus. Some participants wanted additional teaching tools for faculty and researchers, while others discussed boycotts of white businesses. Antman said the medical school has often thought of having a Thurman center extension on its campus.
“It’s got to bubble up,” Antman said. “If we can get out students, faculty, and staff to knit together spontaneously, we’ll probably have some really creative ideas.”
Moderated Debrief Session, Reflection Room #3: 4:10 pm
Raul Fernandez just closed his lively wrap-up session with more than 100 participants. During the discussion, one person after another had talked about how exciting the day was, how much they learned, and that they were committed to doing their part to fight racism and racial injustice.
“Someone said earlier that allyship is a verb, not a noun,” Fernandez said. “ I would say the same thing about advocacy and antiracism. These are all verbs.”
“This has been phenomenal—what a great day,” Fernandez said. “But this is not the end of it. Keep doing the work.”
I’m looking forward to today’s events and thank everyone at BU who worked hard to put the program together.
I am looking forward to today’s events and given the situation that’s going on now, this a great opportunity for us to listen to the presentation today. Thank you to everyone at BU who worked hard at putting this event together.
Wow, opening session maxed out at 1000. I couldn’t get in the Zoom session and I logged in at 8:15. A great indicator of the interest in the BU community to do better!
Hi Megan, You can also watch by livestream. Click on the “View Session” link for the session you want to attend. On the next page, directly below the Zoom info is an option to “Watch on Livestream.” Click Play on the livestream video player.
Is it limited to only 1000?
You can watch the larger sessions via live stream . Please go to https://www.bu.edu/provost/diversity/opening-plenary/ and scroll down to “Watch on Livestream” and then click play.
I was unable to get through.
I wanted to be at the meeting.
You can watch the larger sessions via live stream . Please go to https://www.bu.edu/provost/diversity/opening-plenary/ and scroll down to “Watch on Livestream” and then click play.
This is pretty bad. The Zoom meeting capped out at 1000 participants and now the live feed won’t work. Please take some swift steps to make this accessible to all members of the community who want to participate. Thank you.
Hi Lisa, The live feed is working.
The opening session apparently reached the maximum of 1000 listeners immediately. Very disappointed to be closed out of it but great to know the level of interest.
Hi Alice, You can also watch by livestream. Click on the “View Session” link for the session you want to attend. On the next page, directly below the Zoom info is an option to “Watch on Livestream.” Click Play on the livestream video player.
That link for view session takes me back to my BU login and doesn’t go anywhere
Hi Nicole, Once you click View Session, you do have to login with your BU credentials. Once you login, the page should refresh and you’d be viewing the page for that session.
Hi David, could you please put a link up that takes us to the live feed without a log in? Thanks so much.
Hi Judi, These sessions are only for the BU Community. You must have a BU Login to view the sessions by Zoom or Livestream.
Hi I was not able to join the zoom but i am watching it Livestream thank you for having this option.
Can parents view/attend these sessions? What kind of log in is required?
Hi Melissa, These sessions are only for the BU Community. You must have a BU Login to view the sessions by Zoom or Livestream.
No, it’s not working.
I just checked all concurrent sessions and the livestreams are working for me. I think some of them had trouble at the start.
indeed the livestream is working, thanks!
Setting up a day where “the whole community” is supposed to be engaged, capping at 1,000, then a watch livestream that is not working is not good. Tired of trying.
So great to approach this within the university community. I really wish there had been a way to share it with families. After speaking with someone at the Provost’s office, I learned that you can only get in with a log in for the webinar and that the Zoom is maxed out. This would have been an ideal way for the BU community on the whole to gain knowledge and forward thinking. There is strength in family discussions.
Go here and register, they will send you a link to attend any of the video sessions without a login.
The morning sessions were informative and powerful; it was difficult to chose between the breakout sessions. I hope recordings for all the sessions will available for later viewing.
If we were unable to attend the events, where can we watch the recordings?