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My Journey So Far: Esha Boyd, ’24

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

I decided to attend Bridgewater State University after consulting with my advisors and professors at Bristol Community College. I graduated with my associate degree in social work and wanted to pursue my bachelor’s in the same [discipline]. My advisors spoke very highly of BSU and urged me to visit the campus and to consider the social work program. Once I visited the campus and spoke to some advisors at Bridgewater, I felt the school would best fit my needs.

I have been accepted into the advanced standing Master of Social Work program at Simmons University. I plan to earn my MSW and pursue a law degree.

I felt comfortable as a Black student at Bridgewater. Many of my classes were remarkably diverse, and I also had professors representing many different ethnicities. There were many spaces and clubs on campus available that focused on culture, so there was a sense of belonging. I do not feel that race played a factor in my personal college experience because as a commuter student, I did not spend a lot of time on campus. However, through conversations with other Black students, I know this has not been everyone’s experience.

I really enjoyed participating in the Justice Fellow program offered by the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice and facilitating groups that focused on the Black experience in college. We covered topics such as code-switching, segregation on campus and some of the negative experiences that Black students encountered. We collaborated on strategies and social-emotional tools such as meditation as a way of coping.

I also spent some time as a senator for the School of Social Work, although my course load became too heavy, and I had to resign. I enjoyed attending the Kennedy Center for the Newman Civic Fellowship Conference and learned a great deal about leadership and social justice initiatives.

My most impactful experience on campus was participating in the roundtable with President Clark about the social justice initiatives that Bridgewater is aiming to implement in the coming years.

To improve things for people of color, I feel we should focus on non-minority students. Instead of asking minority students how we can make them feel comfortable with all the issues I have heard some of them go through, such as segregation, bias, racist comments, just to name a few, I think it would make sense to ask the white students why they feel and behave the way they do. Then we can begin to address those issues and in some cases dispute narratives.

As it stands, Black students and other minority students need to be taught how to navigate in spite of something that has not changed in many generations. The fact is you cannot change the hearts and minds of people, but to ask the victim of racism how to make it better does not seem productive. Minority students do not want to be comfortable with racism – they want it to stop.

I am currently in an honors class, Racial and Social Justice, which focuses on questions surrounding race, class, socioeconomic status and social justice in law. I plan to do my research paper on the effects of racism on Black students in suburban and prep schools. My children have gone to predominantly white schools in Marion, MA, since fourth grade. My oldest daughter now attends Tabor Academy, and the negative experiences have not dissipated. We have experienced a great deal of racism, and we have confronted it and been able to succeed in spite of it. I have found that racism in these institutions is cultural and perpetuated by students, faculty and administrators. Therefore, my experience with race has led me to focus more on the navigation of racism rather than the eradication of racism.

Nevertheless, in my paper, I intend to prove that racism has negative effects on minority students that attend those institutions.

I am motivated to get involved in issues surrounding social justice and racial justice because I have seen and experienced what racism does and how it can hurt someone, especially children. My daughter was racially bullied so badly at Sippican Elementary that I had to remove her from school the last four months of the year. The bullying resulted in my daughter cutting herself and needing intense therapy. My experiences with administrators and their inability to display empathy and understanding for the situation continues to the present day.

However, these experiences will not deter me from encouraging my children to strive for the best education possible. I want to help other parents to navigate the system when these things occur, while giving them the support and encouragement to press on.


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