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Kirana Wanandi / Gavel Media

Anti-Racism Takes Effort, and BC Students Are Lacking in it

It’s a Sunday night, and you’re scrolling on your phone before you decide to finally get up and make dinner. You have 45 minutes before you need to leave for your social justice club meeting, which you’re tempted to spend clicking through people’s stories on Instagram. As you do so, you start to see a flood of virtual fliers for an anti-racist event for Freshmen happening on Tuesday night. The thought of sending this to the first-year students in your feminist mentoring club momentarily crosses your mind, knowing this event isn’t necessarily right for you, but maybe for someone else. You keep clicking and see another one scheduled for Thursday, and this one piques your interest more than the first one since it’s happening on the main campus, and there seems to be free food provided. Right before you wrap up your scrolling, you refresh your feed, and at the top is another flier for an anti-racism summit happening the following weekend. You pause for a moment, thinking that this could be a good opportunity to learn more from both students and professors, but when your eyes reach the time and date (three hours on a Saturday afternoon), you decide you’re not willing to make the time on a weekend. Oh well, maybe next time you think to yourself, at least I’m already involved in DEI-focused organizations; that’s better than most people on this campus anyway. You get up and head to your club meeting, giving yourself a pat on the back for your involvement in liberal organizations, which is the extent of what you’re willing to give towards the fight for social change.

The bar for commitment to anti-racism and activism on this campus is on the floor. While by no means a liberal institution, there is a large body of students that consider themselves proponents of social justice, particularly in the context of Boston College. There are many student organizations, courses, and majors that rely heavily on a commitment to anti-racism, yet, it appears that people are more figuratively invested rather than wholeheartedly committed. 

While the community benefits from individuals with acceptance and equity-based beliefs, it is not enough to only believe in this progress without doing the difficult work. Anti-racism, as a movement, an ideology, and a goal for our world, relies on active engagement and autonomous choice to be involved, advocate, and educate oneself. It is at an individual level that people are failing— sure, there are many companies, scholars, and nonprofits that are pushing the bounds of our social norms, yet our generation finds themselves unable to sacrifice an hour a week towards the fight. It’s no secret that anti-racist work is incredibly difficult and taxing, but you are not being asked to lead the charge; you are being asked to sit, listen, and be open to having your most fundamental ideas challenged. Regardless of your involvement in justice and DEI-oriented organizations, there is no excuse for allowing your position on the issue to end there. If you are not willingly making time for essential self-education, even when the events are being organized by your peers and are offered free of charge, you are part of the problem.

No one should have to beg you to attend anti-racist events. There should not have to be consequences in your classes or clubs for those who do not attend each semester’s required events. Events should not have to be euphemistically labeled as DEI to get a sizable audience just because the mainstream is afraid to claim an anti-racist commitment. It’s evident that the dedication to anti-racism is limited on this campus, despite how vocal students can be when their comfort is threatened. Student activism cannot only exist on campus as a succession to the use of slurs or hate crimes. While pushback to administrative failures is necessary at BC, it is not enough to only become involved as a reactionary response. Anti-racism relies on preparation, advocacy, and activism that aims to reform systems and ideologies before they cause their intended damage.

At the FACES Anti-Racism Summit on 4/22, a total of 21 people outside of the organization attended the event, according to the sign-in sheet. Twenty-one students out of the 9,532 that make up the undergraduate population. There were also only two student organizations represented by active members, despite efforts to reach out to a large portion of the student clubs on campus. Even when I say I understand and I give individuals the benefit of the doubt, there’s a difference between being occupied at the specific time of this week’s event and finding an excuse for every learning opportunity. Maybe you’re thinking you just wouldn’t know what to say or how to contribute or that you don’t think these events are the right environment for you. If you feel uncomfortable about the possibility of being wrong, unsure, or undereducated, then you’re the perfect person for these events. Anti-racism is a constant process that involves discomfort and the willingness to be open. The hesitancy demonstrates the urgency with which you should begin to attend these events because it tells you that you have not been in this environment enough to feel confident in your presence. 

The next time that you find yourself scrolling through Instagram before your club meeting, maybe add some of those events to your Google calendar. Be intentional and make the time to attend, knowing that anti-racism is not something you can coast through. It takes commitment and time, but continuing the culture of disregard to change that is so prevalent on this campus fuels one of the most dangerous roadblocks to social justice: indifference.

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Bleachers music enthusiast and hammocking fanatic. Hoping to make the world a better place through oxford commas, feminism, and bagels.