Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s).
Black BU is a group of 133 students at Boston University mobilizing in response to Ben Shapiro’s visit to campus.
Abandoned, triggered, frustrated, disheartened, devalued, infuriated, overwhelmed, ignored, embarrassed of BU. This is how we feel. This is how BU has made us feel. This is how our peers, the Young Americans for Freedom and those who condone their actions have made us feel. Facts don’t care about feelings, but we look beyond the facts to the faces and fake smiles that greet us day in and out on this campus. This reminds us that we are not one BU, that BU is not designed for us, and this BU does not belong to us just as our bodies and our minds do not and have not belonged to us since our rights as human beings were stripped away in the wake of slavery.
We do not speak for the 900 Black faces on this campus, but we do speak for the 133 students who mobilized on November 11, 2019 within 151 minutes to denounce this school’s support of Ben Shapiro’s actions, words, and most importantly, the name of this event: “America Was Not Built On Slavery; It Was Built On Freedom.” To deny slavery, and its economical role in the creation of the US as a nation is to deny the systematic degradation of Black bodies, the generational trauma, natal alienation, and social death that has marked and affected Black communities in the US since 1619, the birth of slavery on US soil as we know, and consequently, the birth of America.
It’s important to reject and refute language that emboldens the ideologies of white supremacy. Rejecting and dismissing the impact of slavery furthers the plight of Black people, and it is on us to combat this racist hegemony that exists.
This school constantly boasts about their most famous alumni, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but by endorsing a conversation titled, “America Was Not Built On Slavery, It Was Built On Freedom” this institution is ostracizing the very community that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for. What about our ancestors who were exploited and forced to work for free? Are they forgotten? Will we continue to deny the magnitude of this country’s past? The foundation of this country is institutionalized racism that continues to affect our community today, and by allowing a conversation with this title, they are ignoring a past, present, and hope for the future that affects us every day. We cannot escape this reality. Our voice will be heard. We will not be silent because it is our duty to combat the negligence that this title creates.
So, we come to you with this. It is not a plea nor a protest, but rather a demand that for once, BU turns to the students who decry instances of passive and active, micro-aggressive actions and acknowledge our disdain and the sour taste on our lips leftover by the administration’s compliance with hateful speech. We demand to be heard, to be listened to, and to finally be acknowledged as our own advocates.
To the students who extend their allyship, thank you, but we speak for ourselves and do not need your megaphone to amplify our already vocal voices.
To the administration, know that our eyes are wide open, we see you, and know that your actions do not go unwatched.
To our true allies, the Palestinian students, the LGBTQIA+ students, and any of the other students whose power does not lie in their privilege to protest, we stand in solidarity with you and among you. We keep our minds and hearts open and welcome you with love into our community.
But before we close, we remind you why we began. America was, in fact, built on slavery, on the backs of Black people, plagued with pain, sorrow, and disregard, so this brings us to ask those who condone this event and title: whose Freedom?