Events conducted during the Week of Reflection on Race Relations included a kickoff Mass at the University Church on March 1, an “Undoing Racism Collective Community Gathering” on March 2 and a Diversity Conference on March 4, according to an email from Bob Howe, the university’s senior director of communications, to The Fordham Ram. Additionally, Campus Ministers delivered reflections at the 12:05 p.m. mass each day during the week, and two of the university’s Integrated Learning Communities held seminars on racial issues.
The university also had planned to conduct a showing of the film “Fruitvale Station,” which documents the shooting of Oscar Grant, an African-American who was shot by police in San Francisco. But that event was postponed due to a snowstorm on Thursday.
Rev. Joseph M. McShane S.J., president of the university, spoke about the state of American race relations during his homily at the opening Mass.
“In our country at this time, the destructive power of such patterns and behavior has become all too evident in the area of race relations,” McShane said during the homily, which focused on how God loved all people despite the fact that human populations often develop severe enmity between each other. “In the aftermath of the events and incidents that occurred throughout our country and in our own city in the past few months, we can and do rail about unjust social systems—and with good reason.”
“We speak passionately about the need to dismantle the sacraments of evil that we see in our world. And let us make no mistake about it. There are unholy sacraments of evil all around us, outward signs of cruelty and inhumanity that people create and that which we live and to which we sometimes contribute,” McShane said.
“My sisters and brothers, during this holy season of Lent and during what I hope will be a gracious week of campus-wide reflection on race relations. I think we have to admit up front that the challenges we face in the area of race relations are not merely political, or social, or economic. They are moral challenges,” McShane concluded.
In an email message to The Fordham Ram, Tochi Mgbenwelu, FCRH ’15, president of ASILI, the black student alliance at Fordham, said that she hoped the week would allow for more open discussion of racial issues on campus among students.
“ASILI’s meetings and events throughout the year are founded on reflecting on race relations,” Mgbenwelu said. “We hope that this week will aid students in seeing the world from a varying point of view than theirs. We also hope this week opens dialogues about race. I feel as though at times students tend to be uncomfortable talking about race and I really do hope this week pacifies that discomfort.”
However, Mgbenwelu also said that her organization did not play a major part in planning events for the Week of Reflection on Race Relations.
“ASILI does not play a large role in the planning of this week,” Mgbenwelu said. “From my knowledge, we weren’t approached to plan it or even really told about it. I personally have not seen much advertisement for it.”