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Student Perspective: Abichael Belizaire, ’24

BSU student’s reflection on racial justice and equity
Story Series
Action: Racial Justice and Equity

Please tell us about the work you do for racial equity and justice.

I work in multiple different areas: I am a double major in biology and chemistry, I am the president of the Chemistry Club, and I also work for the Undergraduate Research (UR) Program as the diversity, equity and inclusion intern. All these experiences have enhanced the way I view myself, as well as the wider community of Bridgewater State University.

As for what I have learned from these experiences, I have become more aware of the small details and barriers that prevent others, especially people of color, from joining the research community, as well as why they would hesitate to come forward about their stress and concerns. Being made aware of these difficulties is what motivates me to keep working and pushing for change.

I like this school in general, and it feels like as someone with a voice, no matter how small, it is my responsibility to speak for those who don’t have one. It is difficult to say for sure what my individual work is doing for racial justice at BSU and beyond because I cannot be impartial. But I have noticed what the UR program has done. I have heard of people joining, as well as some considering pursuing research because of some of the office hours. Some individuals have told me that they want to do the Adrian Tinsley Program for Undergraduate Research next year, while others are in the process of looking for mentors. I cannot solely attribute some of this growth and change to my efforts, but I know we as a department are doing all we can to grow.

What does BSU do well in addressing the needs and desires of our racially minoritized students and in making you feel welcome on campus?

BSU does a lot to address the needs of the minoritized community, especially in the STEM area, specifically the biology and chemistry departments. In my opinion, the faculty have created a comfortable community in which students can come and speak to professors about their struggles and difficulties, and I praise them for that. Having safe spaces like the Pride Center and the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity has been great for having a place to relax, reduce the pressure and “hide” from the difficulties that arise with being a person of color.

What can BSU do better regarding racial equity and justice? What advice and ideas would you offer to us as we do this work?

Because in searching for the right voice, we narrow down their identity to simply “Black.” Although, this is for a just cause. After all, how else do you meet the needs of people of color if not to ask them? This does have the byproduct of putting great mental strain on those who are asked, which is often those who are already under a lot of pressure from their previous accomplishments (think high grades/awards). The conflict arises from the question of “how to improve?" Because to answer is to risk being misunderstood or to be wrong. And to refuse the question is to pass this role on to someone else.


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