Elizabeth Untama / Gavel Media

FACES to Host Virtual Event on Racism in Higher Education

As Boston College’s leading actively anti-racist organization, FACES is committed to engaging the BC community in conversations about race and racism to create a more equitable campus environment. Through workshops, public events, and presentations, FACES creates safe spaces for students to explore issues of power and privilege while providing tools for students to challenge oppressive systems that exist within Boston College and beyond.

In the midst of a national reckoning on racial injustice sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, FACES is leading the way in challenging the discrimination embedded within institutions of higher education. While the group has been committed to actively combatting systemic racism on campus since its founding in 2003, increased public support of the Black Lives Matter movement has allowed FACES to engage the BC community in conversations about racism even more fervently. 

The long-overdue national awakening to systemic racism inspired FACES to dramatically expand their activism during the summer; from establishing an anti-police brutality task force to ramping up their social media posts, including information on police brutality, resources for action, and guides to allyship. FACES has utilized its online platform to educate and empower the BC community to take action against racial injustice during this time of physical separation and social isolation. 

While social justice organizations around the country navigate the challenges of this new wave of online and socially distant activism, the presence of a global health crisis hasn’t stopped FACES from uniting the BC community in the movement for social change. Over the past few months, the organization has developed creative safe spaces for people across the BC community to engage in productive discussions about racial injustice while equipping them with the necessary strategies to challenge deeply rooted systems of oppression. 

Through virtual presentations and guided discussions, FACES provides opportunities for people to learn about how to integrate anti-racist practices into their everday lives while also fostering solidarity by amplifying the voices and perspectives of BIPOC at Boston College. Most recently, their Allyship and Solidarity Zoom event, held on June 5, had over 200 virtual guests, making it one of largest events FACES has ever had, with attendees ranging from faculty members and students to people outside of BC.

“It’s great that people are actually paying attention to the work we are doing and are actively seeking resources and tools to help,” says FACES Co-Director, Maddie Bockus, MCAS ‘21. “We’ve been able to expand our online presence to engage an audience that we haven’t been able to reach before.” 

After the event, many faculty and staff members reached out to the FACES council seeking guidance on how they can practice anti-racist allyship within the classroom.

“The amount of feedback we received was surprising to me because faculty typically don’t attend our events, and we were realizing that maybe they didn’t think that they could,” Maddie says. 

After witnessing the desire of faculty and staff members to expand their knowledge on combatting racial injustice, FACES decided to create a virtual event on anti-racism in higher education, to be held on July 27 from 6-7:30 pm EDT on Zoom. This event, titled “FACES for Faculty and Staff,” will feature both presentation and discussion components, during which FACES council members will contextualize the harmful situations experienced disproportionately by Black students throughout their academic careers at BC. These situations will then be related to the larger issue of racism in higher education. By supplementing this educational session with  guided conversation facilitated by council members, FACES hopes to provide a space for faculty and staff to engage in open conversations about racism at BC while equipping them with the skills necessary to recognize and address these issues in the classroom setting and beyond. 

Although this particular event is limited to faculty and staff attendees, FACES hopes that framing the event around this specific target audience will allow for a more focused discussion. Since faculty members often conduct conversations about race in their respective fields, FACES seeks to present them with the correct language to talk about these complex issues, and with approaches to navigate difficult conversations on race and racism. 

The unique model of this upcoming event allows students to serve as teachers. By speaking with those who hold authority positions on campus, FACES aims to strengthen the collaboration between students and faculty when it comes to creating a more inclusive campus community. 

“We always have encouraged council members to speak from experience and acknowledge that they don’t know everything about these issues,” Maddie points out. “We want to emphasize that we’re by no means experts on these topics, rather we’re all learning and working together to create a more equitable educational environment.”

While this event is only a small piece of the greater movement for combatting racism in higher education, FACES hopes that it will empower faculty and staff to actively engage in anti-racist practices in their respective disciplines by giving them the tools and knowledge to respond to incidents of racism and microaggressions as they appear in classroom settings. This discussion will also hopefully prompt faculty members to reexamine their coursework to ensure that it not only recognizes but amplifies the narratives of traditionally marginalized identities. 

Looking ahead to the fall semester, FACES is optimistic that this event will serve as a turning point to strengthen their relationship with faculty, staff, and administrators. Additionally, they look forward to expanding collaboration with other student organizations in efforts to confront systemic racism on campus. To register for FACES for Faculty and Staff, click here. To learn more, and to stay updated with the work of FACES, visit their Instagram, like them on Facebook, and click here to join their email list.

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