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Boise State’s Anti-Racism Collective works to create space for discussion and activism in Idaho

Photo by Claire Keener

The Anti-Racism Collective at Boise State was created in August of 2021 with the goal of making space for difficult conversations, sharing resources and supporting anti-racism education and activism in the Treasure Valley.

Housed in the Boise State Department of Sociology, the collective is run by Director of Ethnic Studies Dr. Dora Ramirez with the assistance of intern Tessa Valero. 

Since opening, they have hosted a series of online webinars with the theme “Activism and Anti-Racism” to educate the community and provide a platform for local activists to share their experiences.

Dr. Dora Ramirez of Boise State's sociology department and Anti-Racism Collective.
[Photo of Dr. Dora Ramirez of the Boise State Department of Sociology and the Anti-racism Collective]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

“I hope that we really can begin to explore how we the antiracists in Idaho or those that are aspiring anti-racists, can advance our political discourse to be productive and result in a more just community,” said Rep. Chris Mathias (D) from District 19 in Boise House Seat B, in his presentation with the Anti-Racism Collective during their October 27th webinar.

Mathias is the only Black man serving in Idaho’s legislature, and is the former chief academic officer for the Idaho State Board of Education and a US Coast Guard veteran. He shared about an anti-racist approach to legislation in Idaho.

“When I offer criticism I’m doing so to provide constructive feedback, not to tear down and suggest displeasure,” Mathias said. “Please know that whatever I’m saying is with love for you all, for this town, city, state and nation.”

Mathias highlighted the need to think practically about anti-racism activism, focusing not only on what needs done but how to do it. 

He also analyzed House Bill 377, a controversial Idaho education bill aimed at keeping critical race theory out of schools, from an anti-racist perspective.

“I think it’s going to become increasingly important for college students to put themselves in intellectually challenging and uncomfortable conversations, so they can figure out how to keep people who have different political ideas from drifting further to the wings where violence is most inclined and antisocial behavior is ripest,” Mathias said.

Dr. Ramirez’s goal with the collective is to highlight work being done locally, and to focus on researched-based activism rather than politicized opinions.

The collective hosted Melanie Fillmore on Wednesday Nov. 17 throughthe “Activism and Anti-Racism” series, in which she discussed her research on missing and murdered indigenous persons.

“Because [November was]  Indigenous Awareness month, we want to make sure that we speak to that [issue],” Ramirez said.

The collective also assisted A.R.C. with their winter gear drive in early December, supplying gently used winter clothing to Boise Mutual Aid.

“We have some workshops we’re trying to plan that will help students take some of the learning and engagement that we’ve had over this fall and mobilize that into some direct action,” Valero said.

Students, faculty and the surrounding community have shown support for the collective, reaching out to offer money, time, facilitate speaking opportunities and form partnerships, according to Dr. Ramirez.

Following the collective on Instagram is the best way for students to get involved and stay up to date on speakers and events. Past Zoom events are linked on Instagram to view at any time. 

“I really think that people are eager and wanting to have these conversations,” Ramirez said. “It’s really exciting work to do.”

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