'What is AHANA?': Conversations About Race Relations on Campus

It was an evening of solidarity and good company as BC alumna Noelle Green ’07 returned to engage the Boston College community in a discussion on AHANA relations and the state of AHANA leadership on campus.

“What is AHANA?” drifted between comprehensive historical lectures, humorous personal anecdotes, solemn revelations of discomfort on campus and tangential, breezy declarations of maxims—indicating the intimate, conversational nature of the event.  Focused primarily on the history of AHANA relations at BC, Green drew attention to the ways that student protests and minority roles on campus have changed since her time at the university.

“Currently, we have a big paradox between having a biracial president and having such a big increase in police brutality.  That’s a weird space to be in for any person, organization or institution,” Green told the Gavel.  “We’re caught in a time of change in terms of institutional racism and even what diversity means—that’s in flux in our nation right now.”

Speaking of her time at BC, Green drew on her experiences as ALC president in ’06-07 and noted that the approaches of AHANA leadership have changed dramatically since her time.  Most notably, Green expressed some disappointment at the disappearance of many independent AHANA student organizations that were active during her time at BC, such as Truth, FIST and DIVERSE. 

As both the ALC president and a vocal member of the AHANA community involved in numerous independent organizations, Green led many protests and discussions about race on campus.  Addressing the current perceived racial complacency nationwide, Green explained that though racial circumstances have improved over the last eight years, many systemic issues still remain.

Image via ALC / Facebook

Photo courtesy of ALC / Facebook

“By not dealing with this earlier, it’s coming back and manifesting itself in different ways,” Green expressed in relation to the current underlying societal problems plaguing the improvement of AHANA relations.  “I think we’re in a cultural apathetic time—it doesn’t seem like people really care about anything.  I think that’s a bigger question that we all have to address.”

Beyond discussing the history of AHANA and her time at BC, Green gave advice to AHANA students struggling with affecting change or sparking meaningful discussions on campus. 

“The most effective way to affect change on a college campus is working with faculty to provide academic events,” Green advised.  “The more people know, the less they’re going to mess up.  And it also goes with the flow of what this institution is—it’s an institution of higher learning.  What do you want to do?  Do you want to stir everyone up or do you want to make actual change?  And do you need to stir everyone up to make actual change?”

In closing, Green remarked that college should be a time for self-expression and community acceptance—students should be able to express their concerns and fears in a safe environment.

“I want everybody to feel in community with one another,” Green succinctly confessed to the Gavel.  “That they’re not crazy.  To feel frustrated, angry, like they have to do something—when you’re in such a minority—when you believe this thing and nobody else around you cares, you can start to feel like, ‘Wait, is there something wrong with me?’”

The term AHANA, a celebratory acronym used to describe individuals of African, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent, was coined in 1979 by two BC students.     

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