Story Circle: Sisters of Saint Joseph and Sisters of Notre Dame

Posted: May 22, 2013 by meghandoran in Story Circle
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On Wednesday, March 27th, BBDP held a story circle with members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sisters of Notre Dame.  As participants told the stories of their upbringing and experience with desegregation, one of the recurring themes was the isolation and silence of Boston’s white communities.  Many commented on their lack of interaction with people of color growing up, mentioning the “1 or 2” Black children they went to school with.  “I feel like my life is extremely white,” said one of our participants.  Others talked about how racism was something that was never discussed openly in white neighborhoods, but instead hinted at and expected to be understood.  Some of the consequences of these attitudes for whites came up during the post-story discussion.  As one circle member put it, “We didn’t grow up with a healthy respect for other people.” However, many of the participants also described eventually having more diverse experiences both inside and outside of their own communities and discussed how these experiences fostered in some way their own commitment to equity, access and excellence.

Several Sisters who were directly involved in the busing/desegregation crisis participated in the circle but did not want their stories shared publicly. Still they shared much that will enrich the new narrative the project seeks to create with the diverse voices being interview and doing story circles.

In terms of residential segregation–of social segregation –that still seems very much the fabric of my life. I feel like my life is extremely white. Barbara McQueen  As much as I really appreciate the idea of intentionally mixing things up, I think my experience of being in the schools says there will still be bias. MaryRita Weschler I understand perfectly what the racism is in the country. I don’t have the experience in Boston–for which I am very sad. Sr. Helen Colbert I wish at the time –especially as Sisters of Notre Dame–that we had really done a more converted effort of looking at institutional racism and how we were responding. Sr. Linda Bessam 

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