September 17, 2020 by refs
Black Lives Matter
BE REFS message to BE graduate students in support of Black Lives Matter (sent June 3rd):
When the REFS program began as a peer conflict coaching program, the expectation was to provide “resources to ease friction and stress” for graduate students, hence the program’s name. However, anyone providing resources like these quickly realizes that the most effective way of relieving friction and stress is to change the structural practices that cause them.
The painful events of the past few days and weeks have highlighted, once again, how much we still need structural change in the world around us. While the racist violence we have witnessed is horrifying to everyone, many of us have had the privilege of overlooking the brutal reality of police violence against Black people. Our Black peers are disproportionately affected at this time by the compounding exhaustion of systemic racism. Racism and xenophobia are sources of “friction and stress” with long histories in our society, and require something much deeper than simply “easing”. They require examining the fabric of our society at every level and on every stage, including MIT, our department, and our own behavior as individuals.
In collaboration with the Grad Board, the BE REFS remain committed to seeking out and advocating for strategies to dismantle bias and prevent discrimination within BE. Regarding what we can all do as individuals, the Grad Board has shared great links to get involved, become informed, and practice self-care in an overwhelming time.
As we all advocate for change on a systemic level, we must also process the distress that many of us are feeling. Whether you are coping with direct effects of recent events or just struggling to process them as they happen, we want you to know the BE REFS are here to support you in whatever way we can.