Hagop’s article insists that there is a universal desire for equality here as evidenced by both the “Race In The USA” Panel, and Reverend Davidson’s sermon on black life, featuring a sympathetic furrowing of Fr. Leahy’s brow. While Fr. Leahy may have been visibly moved at that particular mass, it is his noticeable silence on the issue of racial justice that motivated students and faculty alike to occupy the halls of St. Mary’s. That gesture, and the subsequent fallout, highlighted the campus’ diverging views; it didn’t merely create a “sense” of division as that article put it.
For many, racial injustice “has become inescapable… as the events of the past few months have unfolded.” But that painful reality is the only known life of the marginalized. By any measure, the unity to which Hagop refers is not all-inclusive. It only exists in the lip service of our campus clergymen. If the desire for justice were uniform, the St. Mary’s protest—a representation of the Jesuit mission of promoting justice—would’ve been treated and spoken of as more than a punishable inconvenience.
The truth is that Boston College’s community diverges greatly on how approach justice. Some see no tension between our mantras: serving others and personal excellence. However, the latter often becomes a prerequisite for the former through awards, recognition, and resume bullets. Inequality will not be overcome without sacrifice. To place “goodwill” as a point of emphasis in this pursuit is to coax the sensibilities. Only those who really want relief from either guilt or responsibility could see Fr. Leahy thanking Rev. Davidson as anything more than keeping up appearances.
Justice is not an emotive exercise. Racism is not simply a matter of personal offenses and etiquette, so it will not be fixed through platitudes and ceremony. Racism is an issue of economics, policy, and the dominance of white privilege (supremacy by another name) in western culture. Without that understanding, people will continue to merely live by sentiment. Their quest for justice will only reach as far as the consolation of conscience and the preservation of privilege. Recognizing that fairness is something everyone must actively and uncomfortably pursue is the only legitimate unifier. Understanding that our community is not an agent of change simply because we say so, and feel better about it over time, is the only necessary sentiment.
But I see your Reverend Michael Davidson, and I’ll raise you a Reverend Martin Luther King in one of his lesser-known speeches, “I Have A Dream”:
Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor