Dismantling Power and Privilege to Achieve Equity in Higher Education
Friday, June 1, 2018On May 22-24, 2018, more than 200 Bunker Hill Community College faculty, staff and community partners gathered for the convening of BHCC’s first Equity and Cultural Wealth Institute, which examined the impact of power and privilege on access and equity in higher education.
The Institute commenced with a keynote presentation by Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., who immediately challenged attendees by asking the uncomfortable questions. “As an institution, are we committed to equality and diversity? How do individual biases and systemic racism impact our students?” he asked. Dr. Moore encouraged these difficult conversations throughout the Institute, and concluded his presentation by reminding participants that “the best friend that hate has is silence.”
On the second day of the Institute, participants selected one of a number of field study opportunities to practice place-based learning, connect with community partners and develop a deeper understanding of contemporary topics related to equity and cultural wealth. Field study experiences included discussing depictions of people of color in art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; reflecting on the experiences of Afro-Latinx youth in Boston’s Hyde Square neighborhood and Latin Quarter; examining contemporary issues of power, privilege and equity in education at the African Meeting House, Abiel Smith School and the Black Heritage Trail; and walking through the Back Bay to explore the local history of LGBTQ issues, to name a few. Participants were also encouraged to share photographic artifacts to capture a narrative that reflect their collective experiences.
Day three of the Institute focused on putting the work of the Institute’s into practice at the College through curricular and co-curricular integration. In particular, participants attended workshops focused on designing experiences that value the cultural wealth of the college community, and enable equitable student outcomes.
As the participants reviewed and reflected upon their experiences over the three-day institute, echoes of the Institute’s keynote presentation emerged. “We are all in different places,” reflected a staff member. “We need to get better as an institution at planning content that drives the conversation forward and that meets individuals.” These conversations were important if not easy, and the questions raised challenged the College community to renew its commitment to achieving equity across the institution.
Developed in partnership with the Museum of African American History Boston and Nantucket (MAAH), UMass Boston’s Asian American Studies Program, the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Institute was sponsored by the Center for Equity and Cultural Wealth Steering Committee, Center for Equity and Cultural Wealth Planning Team, and Equity and Cultural Wealth Institute Planning Team.