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Anna O'Donnell / Gavel Media

FACES Council Hosts Third Annual Summit, “Roots of Racism"

On April 7th, FACES hosted its third annual summit, "Roots of Racism." This three-hour summit consisted of an insightful presentation about the history of racism in America, group discussions, and a phenomenal professor panel featuring the Sociology department's Zine Magubane and Latrica Best and International Studies and Theology's Nelly Wamaitha

According to their mission statement, FACES, the only anti-racist activist group at Boston College, is "an organization committed to educating the Boston College community on the issues of race and systems of power and privilege" through discussions and forums. 

"To me, FACES is an essential organization because anti-racist thought is not adequately incorporated into our curriculum," said Maddy Carr, Gavel co-managing Editor and member of the FACES Outreach department. "Our annual summit is intended to encourage the BC community to interact with anti-racist work and spark conversation about the nuances of race and racism within a multitude of systems and organizations, including Boston College." 

The first portion of the event was a thorough presentation of race in America in the context of the post-transatlantic slave trade. Created, run, and presented all by students, the diverse group began before the concept of race as we know it today was created. 

To subordinate Africans to justify chattel slavery, the concept of race was created with myths like the Curse of Ham and eugenics as faulty evidence. The group explained how chattel slavery in early America was intrinsically tied to the growth of capitalism. 

Pointing to John Clegg's Capitalism and Slavery essay, the fact of market dependence ("productive agents are dependent on markets for survival") and the desire for profit were the main drivers of the slave trade. The group explained the timeline of the concept of race, the residual racial wealth gap, the erasure of Black culture, and how this culmination of factors continuously and systemically harms Black Americans and people of color as a whole.

After the presentation and small group discussions facilitated by FACES leaders, Professors Magubane, Best, and Wamaitha took the stage. The group began their panel with a discussion on how to instigate change at Boston College. 

"Boston College is a very large and complex institution and thus, not every decision [that] is made can be open to democratic discussion and debate and not every decision can be made democratically," explained Professor Magubane. "However, that being said, there are areas of decision-making at Boston College that could be subject to more democratic decision making and that would be not only tremendously helpful for not only the experiences of individual faculty, staff, and students but would also go a long way to transforming BC and making it more anti-racist--which top leadership has frequently claimed is an important goal."

The panel demonstrated that the frustrations students feel regarding the administration's limitations on free speech and protest are felt by faculty members as well. For example, multiple BC students recently faced disciplinary action for a silent pro-Palestinian protest held while walking from Carney Hall to the public Boyden Park. 

While other universities have faculty senates and groups that communicate horizontally with other departments and vertically with the administration and students, BC doesn't have any legitimate channels for faculty members to engage with one another or higher-ups. Just like how students often feel silenced by the administration, faculty members and professors often feel the same way, no matter how long they've been at BC.

While summits, classes, and individual discussions can instigate some level of change, as long as the power at Boston College remains at the top and channels of democratic communication fail to exist, systemic, meaningful change will not happen. 

The panelists continued to facilitate a fantastic discussion of how race interacts with their disciplines of sociology, theology, and international studies. Additionally, they recommended many resources to learn more about anti-racism. Jason Hickel's "The Divide" gives a tremendous account of global inequality in the North and South; Karen and Barbra Fields' "Racecraft" is a sociological account of the construction of race; F. Eboussi Boulaga's "Christianity Without Fetishes" analyzes the history of Christianity in Africa; and Professor Magubane highly recommended students read "anything DuBois has ever written." 

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