Local Community Activism: A Spotlight on Black Boston
The murder of George Floyd sparked large waves of activism across the nation in 2020. Wanting to stand in solidarity with Minnesota, Boston-area college students Hodan Hashi and Toiell Washington went to Twitter to express their desire for a demonstration in Boston. From that,
a group chat was formed to coordinate a demonstration in protest of police brutality. On May 31, the young women, having organized a protest entirely through social media, had over 25,000 people in attendance. Washington likes to say that Black Boston “started by accident.” At the cessation of the protest, many wondered what was next for Black Boston, which is when both women realized the potential opportunity they had for community building. Thus, the birth of Black Boston.
Black Boston aims to meet the needs of the Black community in Boston that often go unaddressed.
One committee, the Educational Programming Team, builds curriculums to be
taught in Boston-area schools to both upper and lower levels of education. In addition to this, Black Boston sponsors multiple community outreach events like virtual Social Hours and book clubs, all in an effort to encourage and provide a space for community conversations to occur.
Black Boston has been well received by the Boston community, garnering the attention of local universities and politicians. In addition to these virtual meetups, Black Boston provides resources to the community. Their goal is to make things more accessible for the Black community of Boston, like hosting policy forums to generate understanding of local legislation and further discussions on important community issues.
Black Boston is an example of the power of social media to unite people towards a common cause. When asked how Black Boston was able to gain and maintain their success, Washington credited the power of social media and the internet. “Collectively activists in this generation have utilized social media to their advantage because it gives people who didn’t have a platform a platform,” she added.
On balance, the organization has been well received by the Boston community and has almost reached 10,000 followers on their Instagram page as well as partnered with many Boston-area universities to hold talks about activism, defunding the police, and other issues affecting the Black community. While it has experienced an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, the organization still faces online harassment from people who believe that the oppression that Black people in Boston face “does not exist.”
Although Black Boston has been able to use social media to their advantage, the platforms can also be fickle. Many today see movements like BLM and calls to defund the police as a fading trend, but for Black people, it is a constant reality. Black Boston uses their platform to maintain momentum. “Just because a huge incident didn’t happen this month does not mean we can’t speak on it,” says Washington. Instead of waiting for the next miscarriage of justice to go viral, Black Boston consistently advocates for the Black community of Boston even when BLM isn’t the hot topic.
One of the best ways to support Black Boston is by following their instagram account for updates on community initiatives and events as well as donating to the cause.