March 15, 2019
Dear BUSSW community,
It is with tremendous sorrow that I write this note to express our School’s condolences to those affected by the horrendous attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand this morning. This crime demonstrates that wherever there is hate, abhorrent behaviors occur, even in countries with more restrictive gun laws and overall lower crime rates such as New Zealand.
This is yet another reminder of the need to remain vigilant and stand against attitudes, behaviors, and policies that directly or indirectly harm populations. The shootings at schools and places of worships, the killing of racial and ethnic minorities and transgender individuals, the violence against women, the separation of undocumented children from their parents, and the recent policies that restrict immigration from some countries are just a few examples of the socially and racially unjust attitudes, behaviors, and policies we face in this country.
The SSW Equity & Inclusion committee has organized a meeting for our School to reflect on this crime and Islamophobia. We will discuss ways that we, as a School of Social Work, can continue to focus our attention and activities on eliminating hate and building bridges with more individuals and communities who are dedicated to healing and improving the lives of marginalized populations.
I am honored to share that leading the conversation will be Saida Abdi, MSW, LICSW and BUSSW PhD candidate, who is now Director of Community Relations at the Boston Children’s Hospital Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center, along with Iman Abdul Malik Merchant, who is a graduate student of Theology at BU. Both are members of the United for Muslim Mental Advocacy & Health, a group of clinicians who provide health and mental health support to the Muslim community.
If there’s anything we can take away from tragedies like this, it is a reminder that we are all educators – teaching others about awareness and impact of words and behavior. And we are all learners – no matter what our expertise is, we can all expand our knowledge about those who feel and see the world differently than we do. I’m hoping we can find some kind of peace in the realization that we can and do have a positive impact on this world we live in.