Black History Month, an opportunity for re-evaluation

Melissa Jeanty, YW Boston Marketing & Communications Intern
Picture for BHM

What would make Boston a great city? According to an article published by the Boston Globe in 2013, education, employment, median household income and other similar factors are indicators of progress. The author states, “At over $62,000, Boston’s median household income is above that of New York, LA, and Chicago. And its population — with a median age of 31 — is younger too, a reflection of the students attracted to local colleges and universities as well as the perception that its more dynamic economy offers them greater opportunities.”

However, Gail Christopher, vice president at W.K. Kellogg Foundation which funds the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation enterprise, goes beyond those markers aforementioned. She shares in an interview for The Banner, that, “In the same way that we have economic indicators such as GDP, we want a set of indicators in overcoming the legacy of racism in this country”. And so, as we celebrate Black History Month and the progress this nation and Boston specifically has made in the past decades, it is also important to re-evaluate this progress.

One example of such progress might be the desegregation of Boston public schools in the 1980s. Our work here at YW Boston has allowed us to be at the forefront of this progress and right in the middle of it. Yet, the fight is not over yet. A Black Lives Matter banner hung up at a church in Jamaica Plain is vandalized. Students of the Boston Latin School are shedding light on the microaggression they’ve endured. These are stories that reflect the enormous challenge this city faces yet, amidst all of this, there is hope. Research shows that the awareness of racial disparities among Black and White Americans has increased over the years. This is due, in part, to the accessibility of information on and videos of police brutality via the internet. As Gail Christopher states, “You have recognition that there’s a problem. This is a rare moment in history, so we need to do something right now”.

The “doing” is what YW Boston is all about. Today, we have programs like the Youth/Police Dialogues and Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity that result in restored mutual trust and understanding.  We are proud to celebrate 150 years of innovative programs and impact in this city. We are excited about the future. We are excited to see Boston be deemed a world-class city, a city that allows for equal opportunity for all its inhabitants, a city that seeks peace and justice for all.