Blackstonian responds to The Boston Foundation Forum on Race
by: Jamarhl Crawford Publisher/Editor
There was much discussion after the Boston Foundation’s forum on race held on Jan. 26th 2011
The Blackstonian received a survey via email with the below description:
The Boston Foundation, the Commonwealth Compact, the Urban league of Eastern Massachusetts and the Museum of Science came together on January 26 to sponsor Boston Talks Race, a forum designed to explore the ‘Reputation and the Reality of Race Relations’ in Boston. The event drew an exceptionally large audience, and we want to thank everyone who took part. Because of the large crowd, many people did not have a chance to add their thoughts to the conversation at that time. This email survey is designed to enable you to make a comment and to provide feedback about the forum. We look forward to holding additional forums as part of this series.
Material from these surveys will be shared among the partners, and some comments will be included in a blog published by the Commonwealth Compact. We will announce the date and place of the next forum in this series shortly. Thank you again for coming and for your contribution to this survey.
The Blackstonian provides our answers to the survey as both an Open Letter to the Boston Foundation as well as for the benefit of our Blackstonian Family.
Boston Talks Race Participant Survey
1. What worked? Why?
The audio/video presentation was great and the data presented by CMB was invaluable. You had the ability, the capacity to do it and you did it. The Boston Foundation is not a revolutionary or community based organization so any expectation of a perfect first attempt that would please everyone is unrealistic. To whom much is given, much is required so since the Boston Foundation is in this extremely unique position with such a unique platform this discussion of race must be done again and again tailor made to hit every nuance and issue. Overall it was a solid attempt and any forum is only as strong as its organization and participation, which is where TBF can improve in future attempts.
2.What didn’t work? Why?
The exclusion of voices from the 40 and under crowd, both in the panel and in the questions accepted from the audience was sorely lacking.
In addition, when discussing race it is important that we open up the discussion. If Black conservatives and moderates from the middle and upper class are having the discussion only with white conservatives and moderates from the middle and upper class, then the discussion is lacking input from the very people most affected by racism and white supremacy. To omit from the discussion those who are labeled Militant, Radical, Revolutionary, Pro-Black, Black Nationalists, Pan Afrikanists, Grass Roots, Activist actually damages the integrity of the discussion. How can we have a “real” discussion without the input of those who are oppressed and those whose work is fighting against it?
This is particularly disturbing considering that the Black conservatives and moderates from the middle and upper class only arrived in their current positions and station in life based on the work, struggle and sacrifice of those who are now marginalized and dismissed as not valid in the modern, mostly academic, clinical and sanitized discussion of race.
3. Was there a comment you wish you had had the opportunity to make?
Boston will never have a real discussion on race until there is an admission of guilt from white people. This is mirrored throughout the nation. Black people are expected to get over racism and slavery without ever having a full discussion of the Black Holocaust or the effects of Slavery, Jim Crow, etc. so there is never a chance for reconciliation. One only needs to look at the discussion of Reparations, Police Brutality, Political Prisoners, etc. to see how in the mainstream it is summarily dismissed as illegitimate and fringe, when in reality it is common sense and humane.
4. There were several suggestions that the effort “go deep” in one way or another. What would “going deep” look like to you?
There are several subjects that we dare not broach lest to offend the hands that feed some… in political context this means that very few will be critical of Mayor Menino, City of Boston, State of Massachusetts if they have personal, business relationships or are receiving funding from those entities or individuals.
There is a History here that is based in fact and statistic and cannot be denied but understandably many do not want to discuss it, much of it is painful and embarrassing and potentially damaging in an election years.
*Since 1995 Boston Police have shot and killed 19 people all of whom were Black, Latino & Cape Verdean.
*BPD has almost never admitted wrongdoing in any case of the death of a Black, Latino or Cape Verdean person. Investigations have lagged for years with no as promised public results and in contrast the young white lady who was shot by accident at Fenway there was an investigation, court case, settlement and payment in the course of 18 months.
*Mayor Menino’s #2 Michael Kineavy served 6 yrs in prison for Civil Rights violations (what would now be termed as Hate Crimes) during busing.
*At one point in the not so distant past Suffolk County was #2 IN THE US for wrongful convictions. The vast majority of those people were Black & Latino.
*Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine are quickly becoming the new bastions of White Supremists, KKK, Aryan Nation, Skinhead in the country formerly from Ohio and PA.
*examining the relationship between many of the Clergy, The Mayor and the BPD which perpetuates racism in many cases and furthers disenfranchisement, disempowerment while promoting false leadership in the community.
I’ll stop there.
5. What would you like to see in future forums on race?
Travelling in the community.
MAMLEO on Columbia Rd.
Boys & Girls Club Talbot Ave.
Roxbury Community College
6. Some who attended the forum on January 26 have suggested future forums include one with a youth perspective and one with a focus on the business community. Are either of these forums you would like to attend? Are there other topics that could be included?
Ultimately this is more for a conference style forum where people would break off into groups on “areas” where racism exists but before this there should be an e
ntire group session to set the tone, define terms, etc… break out groups… and then return for a summary of breakout groups and a final group session something of this magnitude could be done at the convention center during a whole day conference heavily advertised to the entire city and televised/broadcast widely BNN, NPR, WGBH, etc…
7. What is the best way to capture the energy and potential that we all felt January 26, and put them to effective use?
Many people left feeling lacking, so one point is that the Boston Foundation needs to reach out to those in the community who deal with these issues on a day to day basis, reach outside of the list of usual suspects and those with title and position… at least one forum should be a peoples forum where those usual suspects just attend and listen… much of the racism in Boston is entwined also with classism and the bourgeois have always served as gatekeepers and many times proven themselves a hindrance to progressive action.
8. Other comments:
I don’t believe in blind surveys
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