Students and faculty gathered in Gasson Hall to build “bridges to success” for AHANA+ men at its annual Men of Color Conference hosted by the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center (BAIC).
“Although we come from different places and are in different places in our lives, we are similar in our quest to become successful men,” said Richard Paul, assistant director of the African and African Diaspora Studies program at Boston College.
Speakers discussed racism, inclusion, mental health, and coalition-building throughout the event on Feb. 19.
Keynote speaker Nelson Miranda, the vice principal of students at Boston College High School and BC ’96, said his most important life lessons came from his father.
“The learning I got from home, from my father, a Black man, is what really guides me from day to day,” Miranda said.
According to Miranda, education equals freedom. To achieve this freedom, he attended BC as an undergraduate and then completed his master’s degree in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development in 2012. Now, he fulfills his passion for education by working at BC High.
“I knew there was power in educating the youth, which is why I spent 20 years constantly mentoring and leading schools,” Miranda said. “I have worked with many young men of all walks of life.”
Miranda highlighted his experience confronting racism, noting the harmful stereotypes that Black men face, such as young Black boys being viewed as troublemakers.
“When you’re Black, from my experience, your character is constantly under attack,” he said. “The uniqueness is different. Because of this, we can and must as individuals work at all times to recognize and overcome both the conscious and unconscious exploitation of human differences through the color of your skin, culture, and race.”
According to Miranda, it is incredibly important for AHANA+ students to hear experiences and stories from leaders once in their position.
“I hope that my message was heard,” Miranda said. “I hope and trust that they will heed to it, because I wish as a student, I had opportunities like this to hear folks speak who look like me, because it does make a difference.”
Participants of the conference engaged in various discussions, workshops, and panels focused on mental health, networking, and financial literacy. Other speakers included Karl Bell, associate director of BC’s TRIO programs, which work with low-income students; Jeffrey Xie, a real estate advisor and BC ’20; and Bernard Adrien, a web maintenance and program support specialist at BC.
Christopher Carreras, MCAS ’25, attended the conference to share his experiences and gain new perspectives.
“I wanted to be able to … share my perspective [and] also learn a perspective that I might not be able to because of my experience on campus,” Carreras said.
Christian Hawkins, MCAS ’25, came to the Men of Color Conference to connect with others that share similar backgrounds and hopes as well as to get advice on navigating BC.
“My reasoning for coming out today is really just to grow as a person and a man of color on a predominantly white campus,” Hawkins said. “What I mainly want to take away today is honestly just to learn and navigate the space.”
To best navigate life at BC as a student of color, Miranda concluded that students should build and sustain authentic relationships.
“Build and sustain truly authentic relationships,” Miranda said. “Relationships that are characterized by truthful conversations and interactions that one can call liberating or transformative.”
Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / Heights Editor