July 27, 2020
The Rian Immigrant Center partnered with the Boston Irish and Irish Network Boston to virtually host an important community discussion on Black Lives Matter. The June 19, 2020 conversation was a valuable opportunity for the Irish community in Boston and partners to host a dialogue to reflect and speak up about the active role that Irish Americans can play in dismantling structures of systemic racism.
The event, which was facilitated by WBUR Arts and Culture Reporter Cristela Guerra, included Massachusetts state Sen. Nick Collins of South Boston, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, Irish Consul General to New England Laoise Moore, the Hon. Linda Dorcena Forry, Bill Forry, the editor of Boston Irish and bostonirish.com, and Ronnie Millar, executive director of the Rian Immigrant Center.
After a short introduction by Irish Network Boston’s President Cathal Conlon, the conversation began with a presentation by Lea Vugic, LICSW, the director of Wellness Services at the Rian Immigrant Center, who explored issues on anti-racism and racial justice in America from the book “How to be an Anti-Racist” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi.
Among panel members, the discussion revolved around themes of systemic racism in law enforcement, the criminal justice system, the privileges and obligations of whiteness, the necessity of open conversation and anti-racism around race in America, and the global reach of the Black Lives Matter Movement in Ireland. The panelists challenged members of the Irish community to reflect on behaviors, actions, and policies.
The conversation was a powerful opportunity for the Irish community in Boston to come together and reflect on the actions that they should take to promote anti-racism within their own workplaces, community spaces, and families. However, a dialogue is only the first step in what must be an ongoing and sustained commitment– one that goes beyond simple discussion– by the Irish community in Boston to dismantle institutions that have been designed to oppress BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities in the United States.
The Rian Immigrant Center, Boston Irish, and Irish Network Boston are committed to continuing to engage the Irish community in reflection and activism that will disrupt structures that propagate racism and racist policies.
Please view a recording of this conversation at vimeo.com/431572663.
We are planning a follow up with a three-part Webinar series discussing how parents can talk about racism with their children, how businesses can advance anti-racism within the workplace, and finally learning more about more anti-racism work in Ireland. Please check out riancenter.org for dates and times.