BU Diversity & Inclusion
Facing Our Old Business.
Distinctively & Together.

June 2020.

We first want to congratulate the Class of 2020! What an amazing feat—to finish up your degree under these strange, disorienting circumstances. It's easy to lose sight of what you've accomplished, personally and academically. A pandemic, we've all learned, sure takes up a lot of oxygen!  But, 2020 graduates, we urge you to reflect with some seriousness on what you've learned about yourselves, about those around you, and about the world into which you now walk. We hope you begin this part of your journey with a stronger sense of where you might fit in and, importantly, where you might find what most fulfills and ignites you, and puts to best use your talents. Huzzah, to one and all!

And for the rest of us, we too are in a new reality. And yet, we seem to be, as always, facing the same old business. The news this month has been complex and dire and has everything to do with the painful and persistent history of racism. Most notably, it emerged in Georgia, in Central Park, in Minneapolis, and, again and again in COVID-19 wards in hospitals across the country.

All of the news around us pronounces: "We're entering a new world!" or "Nothing will be the same!". Yet in truth, history shows us that no matter how "new" the world, we are informed and defined by the past. Our new post-COVID-19 world? Not so new. Into it we know we will drag all of our histories–the beautiful and, if we are truthful, the ugly. History is strong and muscular and unequivocally persistent.

It is up to us to be equally muscular and unambiguously persistent. If we want to create new, more inclusive, more diverse, and equitable histories, we're going to have to get active and build new muscle. And building muscle takes many days, many weeks, many months and years. Our dark histories rely on collective inaction, collective silence, and our collective shrug. So, this month? No more shrugging. Get moving and get building!

Later in this newsletter there is short essay and a poem that speak to us about the power of changing our frames and the power of the past, respectively. Art-making is one kind of action. But also, the newsletter is full of many arenas in which you can get engaged. How you engage is up to you. But it's important that you do.

Take good care.

The D&I Team.

BU D&I News

Faculty & Staff Community Networks

Last month the Allies and Advocates FSCN held a conversation about bystander intervention, and encouraged participants to complete a bystander intervention training beforehand to further their conversation.

The LGBTQIA+ FSCN hosted a number of virtual meetings and events, including a social happy hour, group lunch, and a Q&A about bisexuality.

This month the Staff and Faculty Extend BU Disability Support (SAFEBUDS) group will be hosting two events–one for staff, and one for faculty. More information on these events can be found below under "Happenings."
As promised, we've been working to develop a series of online conversations focused on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and COVID-19. The series begins next week with the first conversation on Mental Health, Race, and COVID-19. Please look for details under "Happenings".  Each conversation will feature experts on the topic. All events will be captioned.
"Thriving in Boston" Video Series
Steve Brady, Associate Professor of Psychiatry; Assistant Dean, Division of Graduate Medical Sciences

Allies & Advocates in Action

Boston Medical Center

In the wake of COVID-19, Boston Medical Center (BMC) has created the new COVID-19 Family Support Center (FSC) to serve BMC patients and their families, as well as BMC and Boston University Medical Group employees who have family members with COVID-19. The FSC aims to address the myriad ways that the pandemic has affected, and continues to affect, the families of COVID-19 patients while also fostering community. Services provided by this center include:
  • On-demand telephonic support to families
  • Scheduled virtual support for individuals and family units
  • Support groups (including groups focused on Grief and Bereavement)
  • Supports and activities tailored to children
  • Connections to Spiritual Support
  • Connections to community support services within BMC and community at large
The COVID-19 Family Support Center can be reached 24/7 by phone at (617) 414-7510 or by email at


Boston University's strong GWiSE (graduate women in science and engineering) organization is part of a larger New England GWiSE organization that is comprised of groups from Boston College, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts, among others. GWiSE organizations support diversity in STEM. If you're interested in joining the New England GWiSE, please contact:

Sargent College Award D&I Grant

Congratulations to Clinical Associate Professor and Nutrition Program Director Shelly DiBiasse who in collaboration with Harvard Medical School Program Director Deanna Belleny was awarded a $10,000 Diversity and Inclusion Promotion Grant from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for development of the Boston Alliance for Diversity in Dietetics (BADD). Among BADD's goals are to foster recruitment of people historically underrepresented in the field of dietetics nutrition.

DiBiasse reports that this grant will be used to create a coalition of dietetics students, interns, and professionals who will engage in a number of programs and initiatives designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the dietetics profession in and around Boston, and across the nation.

School of Medicine

On April 28 the School of Medicine held a virtual town hall to address the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on communities of color, particularly in relation to morbidity, mortality, and economics. Speakers concluded that the range of community impacts is a reflection of the systematic and societal "marginalization of communities of color with respect to the five dimensions of poverty as described by the Brookings Institute. They are low household income, limited educational opportunities, lack of health insurance, living in a low income area, and unemployment."

You can view a recording and written transcript of this town hall meeting here.



"'In a nation where there are official state holidays for treason and ignominious defeat, Juneteenth deserves far more recognition.'" Rethinking How The U.S. And Boston Recognize Juneteenth. Zoë Mitchell and Tiziana Dearing. WBUR. June 18, 2019. 

Black Heritage Trail of NH to celebrate Juneteenth virtually. SeacoastOnline. May 19, 2020. "The Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will celebrate Juneteenth 2020 June 18-20 with four unique live streamed programs including a cooking program, a panel presentation, African drumming and a concert."

Why Juneteenth is America's True Independence Day. Ben & Jerry's. June 19, 2019. "Happy Independence Day! No… we know it’s not July 4. We’re talking about America’s other Independence Day—Juneteenth."

Disability Access

Student Creates Transparent Masks for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community. Nina Azzarello. DesignBoom. April 8, 2020. "'As a college student studying education for the deaf and hard of hearing, I have a great appreciation for the ways in which the world is designed with hearing people in mind... Those who rely on lip reading or ASL to communicate are often cut off from their source of communication when doctors and nurses don surgical masks.'"
Megan Sullivan
Google Meet & Accessibility. The image on the right was sent to us by a BU employee whose family has taken advantage of Google Meet's new built-in deaf and hard-of-hearing friendly features such as closed captioning, speech-to-text, and audio description. Google Meet has accessibility features available for users with vision impairments as well.

While the results aren't always entirely accurate (see typos in image above, for example), technological innovations are nudging us quickly closer to a more inclusive society.


Caring for Immigrant Caregivers. Gray Babbs. Public Health Post. May 18, 2020. "As the population gets a little older and a little sicker each year, disabled and older Americans rely more and more on home health aides... Nationally, 28% of the direct care workforce and 31% of home health aides are born outside the US."

"The Coronavirus problem that India had feared is becoming reality in Mumbai... Hospitals are overflowing with the sick. Police officers are exhausted enforcing a stay-at-home curfew. Doctors say the biggest enemy is Mumbai’s density." India's 'Maximum City' Engulfed by Coronavirus. Jeffrey Gettleman. The New York Times. May 14, 2020.

Poet and essayist Ross Gay on the meaning and making of joy, even while masked. The Joy of Caring for Others. New York Times. May 18, 2020.

"Traditional indigenous beliefs are a powerful tool for understanding the pandemic. Native American spiritual leaders say this is a time to recalibrate for a better future." For Native Americans, the pandemic is a threat - and a time to reflect. Rachel Hartigan Shea. National Geographic. May 12, 2020.

Racism & Anti-Racism on the Rise

Increasingly, we're seeing collections of readings and materials gathered by allies interested in becoming active anti-racists. Here is a link to a recently developed series of resources.

Chapman Professor Tracks Rise in Hate Group Activity Targeting Asian Americans. Arp. Chapman University. April 17, 2020. "'White supremacists seek to weaponize COVID-19, driving agenda of violence...'"

Africans in Guangzhou are on edge, after many are left homeless amid rising xenophobia as China fights a second wave of coronavirus. Jenni Marsh, Shawn Deng and Nectar Gan. CNN. April 12, 2020. "The African community in Guangzhou is on edge after widespread accounts were shared on social media of people being left homeless this week, as China's warnings against imported coronavirus cases stoke anti-foreigner sentiment."


Counting Trans Health. Gray Babbs. Public Health Post. May 21, 2020. "Transgender people are particularly vulnerable to a variety of poor health outcomes including depression, HIV, substance use, and suicide. Part of this poor health is due to stigma and minority stress. Most trans people pursue medical transition, and cross-sex hormones and surgeries can cause health issues..."

Home But Not Safe, Some LGBTQ Young People Face Rejection from Families in Lockdown. Patti Neighmond. NPR. May 17, 2020. "Staying home and sheltering in place can be stressful for everyone. But for some college students who identify as LGBTQ, returning to family environments can be very difficult and even psychologically damaging, psychologists say."

Religion & Coronavirus

Breaking the Ramadan Fast in Quarantine. Amelia Nierenburg. The New York Times. May 12, 2020. "The evening meal is usually a time for community, but this year, Muslims have to adapt."


有 識: Have Knowledge
Paisley Rekdal

Have you ridden in a streetcar?
Can you describe the taste of bread?
Where are the joss houses located in the city?
Do Jackson Street and Dupont run
in a circle or a line, what is the fruit
your mother ate before she bore you,
how many letters a year
do you receive from your father?
Of which material is your ancestral hall
now built? How many water buffalo
does your uncle own?
Do you love him? Do you hate her?
What kind of bird sang
at your parents’ wedding? What are the birth dates
for each of your cousins: did your brother die
from starvation, work, or murder?
Do you know the price of tea here?
Have you ever touched a stranger’s face
as he slept? Did it snow the year
you first wintered in our desert?
How much weight is
a bucket and a hammer? Which store
is opposite your grandmother’s?
Did you sleep with that man
for money? Did you sleep with that man
for love? Name the color and number
of all your mother’s dresses. Now
your village’s rivers.
What diseases of the heart
do you carry? What country do you see
when you think of your children?
Does your sister ever write?
In which direction does her front door face?
How many steps did you take
when you finally left her?
How far did you walk
before you looked back?


BU D&I's COVID-19, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: An Online Series

June 4 | 11 am - 12:30 pm 
Mental Health, Race, and COVID-19
RSVP here.

June 10 | 1 - 2:30 pm 
COVID-19 and the LGBTQIA+ Experience
RSVP here.

June 16 | 1 - 2:30 pm
Social Class—Impacts and Considerations in Higher Education
RSVP here.

June 22 | 1 - 2:30 pm 
COVID-19 and Living with Disabilities
RSVP here.

June 30 | 1 - 2:30 pm 
Religious Practice, Spirituality, and COVID-19
RSVP here.

School of Public Health

Teaching Public Health: Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice
Our three-part Teaching Public Health symposium will explore best practices in inclusive pedagogy. Speakers will address educational policies, course design, content, and other approaches that optimize learning for all students.

June 4 | 4:30 - 6 pm
Inclusivity in course design and educational policies

June 9 | 4:30 - 6 pm
Best Practices in teaching more inclusively
June 17 | 4:30 - 6 pm
Keynote address and reactions from the classroom (a student panel)

Register for the symposium here.

For further information including speakers and panelists, please visit the event page.

BU Faculty and Staff Community Networks

Staff and Faculty Extend BU Disability Support (SAFEBUDS)
June 17 | 12 pm

Join the Zoom meeting here.
Meeting ID: 978 2830 5102
Password: 231311

June 19 | 2 pm
Faculty Chat -"Taking Our Masks Off & Having Tea: Breathing, Sipping, and Conversing Together as Faculty Living with a Disability in COVID-19"

Join the Zoom meeting here.
Meeting ID: 985 1165 2490
Password: 928586

Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

People's History Online: Spring 2020
Black Freedom Struggle: From Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement
Fridays have become a time to look forward to learning through stories about people’s history, to meeting other educators, and to finding a road map forward in the midst of this pandemic. As one participant said, “Thank you for getting us together and giving me hope that we are not alone, and that we can think and act ourselves out of this pandemic.”
June 5 | 2 pm
Reconstruction and Issues of Citizenship, Suffrage, and Movement Building in the 19th Century - Part 1

June 12 | 2 pm
Reconstruction and Issues of Citizenship, Suffrage, and Movement Building in the 19th Century - Part 2

June 19 | 2 pm
Reconstruction and Juneteenth

June 26 | 2 pm
Women in the Black Freedom Struggle

Please visit the Zinn Education Project's website for further information, to view past sessions, or to register for upcoming sessions.

Quips, Quotes, & Short Considerations


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.


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 Diversity & Inclusion
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