Boston University’s minority student group Black BU issued an open letter to the university community Tuesday expressing their feelings of being “abandoned, triggered, frustrated, disheartened, devalued, infuriated, overwhelmed, ignored,” and “embarrassed of the university” because it is allowing Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro to give a speech on Wednesday titled “America Was Not Built On Slavery; It Was Built On Freedom.”
The letter, which was obtained and published by Young America’s Foundation, the organization sponsoring the Shapiro event, begins by stressing what Shapiro’s famous tagline directly addresses: “feelings.”
“Abandoned, triggered, frustrated, disheartened, devalued, infuriated, overwhelmed, ignored, embarrassed of BU. This is how we feel. This is how BU has made us feel,” the student group writes (screenshot of letter below). “This is how our peers, the Young Americans for Freedom and those who condone their actions have made us feel. Facts don’t care about feelings, but we look beyond the facts to the faces and fake smiles that greet us day in and out on this campus. This reminds us that we are not one BU, that BU is not designed for us, and this BU does not belong to use just as our bodies and our minds do not and have not belonged to us since our rights as human beings were stripped away in the wake of slavery.”
The student org then specifies what has elicited such strong emotions among members: the title of Shapiro’s speech. “We do not speak for the 900 Black faces on this campus, but we do speak for the 133 students who mobilized on November 11, 2019 within 151 minutes to denounce this school’s support of Ben Shapiro’s actions, words, and most importantly, the name of this event: ‘American Was Not Built On Slavery; It Was Built On Freedom.’”
Though Shapiro has repeatedly and forcefully condemned the evils of slavery and addressed its economic and societal role in the U.S. until it was finally abolished through the Civil War, the student group accuses Shapiro of “denying slavery” and its economic role in the creation of the U.S.
“To deny slavery, and its economic role in the creation of the US as a nation is to deny the systematic degradation of Black bodies, the generational trauma, natal alienation, and social death that has marked and affected Black communities in the US since 1619, the birth of slavery on US soil as we know, and consequently, the birth of America.”
The New York Times has helped popularize the concept that the U.S. was not founded in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence, but in 1619 when the first African slaves arrived in the colonies. The alternative “founding” date allows the social justice left to describe the U.S. as indelibly defined by slavery and institutional racism despite the abolishment of the evil institution over a century and half ago and all the progress since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in eliminating institutional racism.
“It’s important to reject and refute language that emboldens the ideologies of white supremacy,” the letter continues. “Rejecting and dismissing the impact of slavery furthers the plight of Black people, and it is on us to combat this racist hegemony that exists.”
“This school constantly boasts about their most famous alumni, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but by endorsing a conversation titled, ‘America Was Not Built On Slavery; It Was Built On Freedom’ this institution is ostracizing the very community that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for,” the group claims. “What about our ancestors who were exploited and forced to work for free. Are they forgotten? Will we continue to deny the magnitude of this country’s past? The foundation of this country is instutionalized racism that continues to affect our community today, and by allowing a conversation with this title, they are ignoring a past, present, and hope for the future that affects us every day. We cannot escape this reality. Our voices will be heard. We will not be silent because it is our duty to combat the negligence that this title creates.”
The student group then issues “not a plea or a protest” but a “demand”: “So, we come to you with this. It is not a plea or a protest, but rather a demand that for once, BU turns to the students who decry instances of passive and active, micro-aggressive actions and acknowledge our disdain and the sour taste on our lips leftover by the administration’s compliance with hateful speech. We demand to be heard, to be listened to, and to finally be acknowledged as our own advocates.”
They then rebuke those “allies” who assume they need their “megaphone” to speak out. “To the students who extend their allyship, thank you, but we speak for ourselves and do not need your megaphone to amplify our already vocal voices.” Next, they turn their focus on the administration, to whom they issue a warning: “To the administration, know that our eyes are wide open, we see you, and know that your actions do not go unwatched.”
Finally, the group addresses their “true allies,” including Palestinian students and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and by which they expressly do not mean students with “privilege to protest,” as if some groups are not allowed this First Amendment right. “To our true allies, the Palestinian students, the LGBTQIA+ students, and any of the other students whose power does not lie in their privilege to protest, we stand in solidarity with you and among you,” the letter reads. “We keep our minds and hearts open and welcome you with love into our community.”
“But before we close, we remind you why we began,” Black BU concludes. “America was, in fact, built on slavery, on the backs of Black people, plagued with pain, sorrow, and disregard, so this brings us to ask those who condone this event and title: whose Freedom?”
In response, Shapiro told The Daily Wire, “It’s supremely typical of campus radicals to dismiss the content of a speech they haven’t heard, and to pre-emptively mischaracterize its content. But listening is more difficult than posturing.”
“Suffice it to say, I have never and will never downplay the horrors or legacy of slavery,” said Shapiro. “America is, however, the greatest force for freedom in world history; the darknesses of our past are an essential part of our story, but they are not what makes America unique and special.”
“As to the question — whose freedom does America stand for? — the answer is, all of ours. Which is why they have the right to protest, and I have the right to speak,” he added. “I look forward to all of us exercising our rights tomorrow.”
Though in their letter the Black BU accuses Shapiro of promoting “white supremacy,” Shapiro’s speech at Boston University comes less than a week after his speech at Stanford in which he dedicated a majority of his speech to dismantling the racist, “white identity” ideology espoused by the Alt-Right.
Below is a screenshot of the Black BU open letter via YAF: