Session Recap from A Day of Collective Engagement

Opening Remarks and Opening Plenary

“Until we each understand how an Africa-American student or a Latino staff member sees and experiences our actions and words, we will be forever on the outside of the cycle of racism that afflicts us.  We must aspire to be the Boston University deserving of the legacy offing the university where Howard Thurman taught and preached and Martin Luther King Jr. studied over a half century ago.” – Robert Brown, BU President

“The heartbeat of racism itself is denial.” – Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and Founder, BU Center for Antiracist Research

“Racism is not a feeling.  Racism is not a disease.  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.” – Saida Grundy, Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

“Race is a made up system.  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 and superiority that’s backed by a system of power.” – Saida Grundy, Assistant Professor of Sociology and African American Studies

“History is crucial to how we understand our tendency to forget things all the time.  {art 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.”  – Louis Chude-Sokei, Professor of English, George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies, Director of the African American Studies Program

“So many deny that racism’s pervading this nation, but if you ask them to define racism, they can’t define it.” – Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and Founder, BU Center for Antiracist Research

“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.”  – Paula Austin, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies

“During the enslavement era, enslaved Africans were conceived 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.” – Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and Founder, BU Center for Antiracist Research

“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.” – Ibram X. Kendi, Professor of History and Founder, BU Center for Antiracist Research

“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, institutions are scared of us and we can do something.  That should inspire students to engage with their own needs and their own wants.” – Louis Chude-Sokei, Professor of English, George and Joyce Wein Chair in African American Studies, Director of the African American Studies Program

A Conversation About White Allyship, Advocacy and Leadership

“You must continuously, daily work on allyship.  You’ll make mistakes, apologize with humility, and then get back to work.” – Carrie Preston, Professor of English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, Arvind & Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor, Director, Kilachand Honors College

“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.” – Kim McCall, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biology

“A colleague came to me and pointed out that 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.  Sometimes you forget to pause and follow through int eh facilitation of ideas and who is contributing them.  If you don’t attend to this consistently it erodes participation.  The misstep there was not keeping your eye on the road during a heated discussion and remembering these important foundational commitment you make as a leader.” – Stan Sclaroff, Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Psychological & Physiological Impacts of Racism

“We know that experiences of racism as a child can predict negative mental health outcomes when an individual is an adult.  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.” – Donte Bernard, Postdoctoral scholar at Medical University of South Carolina

“People of color experience, on average, 5 experiences of racism a day.  So what happens is your baseline starts to change which is called allostatic load.  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.” – Donte Bernard, Postdoctoral scholar at Medical University of South Carolina

“A clinician who may not feel comfortable talking about racism can say ‘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.  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.  It’s important that we start those conversations and not overburden our clients and expect them to one up the conversation.  Offering that space can be very validating.” – Donte Bernard, Postdoctoral scholar at Medical University of South Carolina

Racial Violence and the Law: A Sordid History

“We should all know that the Constitution of the United States was established by propertied white men.  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.” – Gerald Leonard, Professor of Law

“What folks on the streets who are calling for defunding the police are recognizing is that while legal change can matter, what fundamentally needs to be done is a change in institutions.” – Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Dean and Professor of Law

Research on Tap: Emerging Scholarship on Racism & Antiracism

“We’re looking at emerging antiracist approaches that acknowledge systemic cultural barriers and inequalities based on race, gender, and other socially constructed identity markers.” – Christine Hamel, MFA, GPC, Assistant Professor, Voice & Acting, CFA

“Framing analysis can be used for detecting bias in media.  It’s to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them salient or not.  When a news reporter covers issues or incidents, they use certain perspectives while writing it, and these perspectives are called framing.” – Derry Wijaya, PhD, Assistant Professor, Computer Science

A Clergy Conversation on Strategies for Change in Race Relations

“Memory is history layered with meaning and puts demands on us.” – Rabbi Elie Lehmann, Jewish Chaplain at BU and Campus Rabbi for BU Hillel

The Arts and Antiracist Practices

“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 but as long as you are sort of owning your own truth, and then moving forward with some level of sincerity you’ll be okay.” – Ty Furman, Managing Director of the BU Arts Initiative

Black BU: An Intergenerational Conversation About Alumni Experiences with Racism & Antiracism on Campus

” Often students of color in the research arena are encouraged not to research things about ethnicity and their passion.” – Pauline Jennett (STH’05, Wheelock’17)

“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.
” – Ina Joseph(COM’20)

Racism and Antiracism in the Clinical Medical Practice

“When you look at the numbers of the white versos non-white clinicians in the medical fields and the discrepancy between them, you can tell this is not just something that happened passively.  It didn’t happen as an accident.  It was a choice.  It is the effect of structural racism.” – Dr. Cassandra Pierre, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine; Medical Director of Public Health Programs, Infectious Diseases, Medicine, BMC Associate Hospital Epidemiologist, Infectious Diseases, Boston Medical Center

“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 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.” – Dr. Samantha Kaplan, Assistant Dean, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Inclusive Pedagogy and Decolonizing the Curriculum

“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.” – Davena Jackson, Clinical Assistant Professor of English Education Wheelock College of Education & Human Development

“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.” – Yvette Cozier, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Epidemiology, SPH

A Conversation with Diversity & Inclusion Practitioners

“When I think about diversity, it’s really about identity work, who we are, why that matters, differences that make a difference.  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.” – Tiffany Enos, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

“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.” – Crystal Williams, Associate Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, Professor of English

Inspiring Justice Leadership at BU: Teaching, Research & Practice

“It is our job as teachers, law professors, lawyers, to really interrogate the role that the law has played in creating and perpetuating injustice.  “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.” – Sarah Sherman-Stokes, Associate Director of the Immigrants’ Rights & Human Trafficking Clinic and Lecturer and Clinical Instructor, School of Law

“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.” – Jessica Hamilton, Master of Divinity Student at STH and Graduate Intern at the Howard Thurman Center