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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Our Collective Race

As the waning days of February, the year’s shortest month,

draw once more to a close, we at the Mass Media feel it is

necessary to address the conspicuous absence of recognition for Black History Month at UMB. As a university that prides itself on its diverse community, it seems awkward, even reprehensible, that UMB failed to recognize a month dedicated to commemorating the rich history of a community systematically neglected in our society.

Section 6 of the University Mission Statement reads: “[UMB] sponsors and supports cultural diversity by helping ethnic and international communities to articulate and celebrate their cultural values and identities.” Yet, we find no example of this celebration displayed anywhere but for a collection of Africana Studies books displayed in the lobby of Healey Library. This indifference seems to demand the question: whose responsibility is it to recognize and celebrate Black History Month?

“Unfortunately there hasn’t been a tradition of organized events here,” said Dean Janey, Dean of Student Affairs. “There’s no good reason for it, but it’s a concern I’ve had. Having not had a tradition, it can be difficult to get things started. It takes folks getting together and planning needed well in advance before February.”

“The Black Student Center (BSC) has been closed in February,” said a spokesman for the Center. “None of the coordinators have been in this month.” Despite this fact, the BSC had an open-house celebration on Wednesday, 27th with African drummers, dancers, and singers. No one in the Trotter Institute or the Africana Studies Dept. was available for comment.

But should the burden of organizing events fall solely on the shoulders of those university organizations dedicated to supporting the enhancement of the African-American community year-round? Perhaps UMB’s Administration should assume a more active role in observing a month that seems to represent the very cultural values the Mission Statement identifies and the university seeks to embrace.

In a time when war divides the international community, and much of the future is uncertain, it seems poignant that UMB’s diverse community, representing a multitude of traditions and cultural histories, can coexist in a manner that truly transcends the bounds of any mission statement. We are real people, proud of our cultures, striving to better ourselves through the process of learning and interaction with one another. Indeed, despite our cultural pretexts, we are all distinctly American, and in one form or another, striving to attain the American Dream, whatever it means to you.

And yet it seems we have gained little ground in the struggle for tolerance, independence, and recognition. The silent passing of this month seems to epitomize this struggle. But Black History Month represents much more than twenty-eight days set aside to commemorate the unique cultural history of a race too spirited and too strong to be bound by one month. It represents the hope of all of us dedicated to living peaceably on this earth. It represents the pain we have endured, the day-to-day struggles of our lives, the most sacred hopes and elusive dreams we all share in dreaming.

Perhaps most poignantly, Black History Month represents the faces you pass everyday in the halls, where the burden of responsibility truly lies to recognize the differences that define us all. Because it is only through the recognition and acceptance of our individual differences that we will ever come to realize the similarities of our collective race.