Dear those who feel unwelcome at Boston College,
A new week has begun. For most, Mondays hold a unique optimism, albeit dismayed, that this new week has the potential to be better than the last. But this Monday might be different for you. Will it precede a better week than the last? Will the air of advocacy filter into this week? Should you be optimistic today without the banners, crowded stages, and the perpetual beating of helicopter wings?
Your lives and education here at Boston College matter. Despite your desire and your right to study, to create, to be, you find yourself explaining why you are upset—why you matter. Needing to explain yourself before you can be yourself is utterly unfair.
This hatred punctuates much of closed-door campus chatter through revolting “jokes” and inconsequential turns of phrase. We see this and think: Is this what Boston College is? Is this what freshmen should expect of their coming years?
Yes, ignorance and, undeniably, racism pervade campus, but there are also beautiful, informed minds that celebrate their position as supporters, allies, and resistors of ignorance and racism. Though not enough, there are people to converse with, learn from, and march alongside. With the administration’s failure to provide anything more than noncommittal words, meant only to assuage prospective students and trustees alike, we need to lean on each other as friends, classmates, and equals as we discuss, inform, and squelch the rampant normalization of complacency in the face of oppression, namely racism, on campus.
Some will argue that ignorance is different than blatant hatred, and should be treated as such; but to follow the path of inaction is to condone hatred. We need rigid rules in place to ensure fairness and genuine equality for everyone. We have a universal definition of plagiarism, and a school-wide punishment for it, no matter the subject. Where are our hard-line, one-strike punitive actions on racism, regardless of ignorance or intention? Racism is a decision, however intentional, to abide by injustice. Not only is it an easy decision to make, but an easy one to follow. Choosing not to post degrading comments, defile signs, or use racial slurs should be as simple, and widely discouraged, as not cheating on an exam or copying material off of the Internet.
As a white ally, I am working on listening to and comprehending the experiences of students of color here at BC. You know it will happen again, and again, but, until there is a clear, universal understanding that racism is a problem that clearly exists at Boston College, and the entire community plans concrete steps to remedy that problem, we will need resistors and allies alike to work together and be louder than ever before changes are made.
We cannot allow these instances of racism and hate to make students of color or any marginalized group feel as if they do not belong, because they do. Boston College revels in introspection and service, making campus a home for many. For a great deal of others, BC has proved to be a foundation for hate. As an ally, I see it as my job to make BC a home for students of any background or identity, to make this Monday a little more optimistic after an intense and emotional week.
With love and support,
This piece was written in inspiration of and gratitude for the incredible thoughts of the students in the course Black and Popular: Speculative Fictions.