Conversations of Equality with ONE

Article by Noorjahan Mezrouh

While we may all see informative posts trending on social media, some may either be misleading or misinformative. Thus, in the midst of many conversations about racism and equality, I spoke with Ysbely Santos, the President of Origins of Necessary Equality (ONE) and rising sophomore at Babson College, about the Black Lives Matter movement and the various aspects of justice behind the movement. For those of you who are not familiar with the organization, ONE emphasizes education, awareness, inclusion, and understanding. With that in mind, I asked Ysbely Santos various questions linked to informative posts you may have seen recently.

What is ONE's mission/vision statement? How does it relate to BLM?

“The mission statement of ONE is to create diverse and inclusive safe spaces where we can hold conversations about controversial topics. The Black Lives Matter movement is an international human rights movement. The oppression of Black people has been happening for centuries and this movement is fighting against systemic racism and violence. The Black Lives Matter movement is nothing new and ONE has been having conversations about for a while. Babson culture, similar to the culture of the rest of the world, is to not talk about these issues though they affect thousands of people, ONE; however, chooses to talk through these issues and reach points of understanding.”

Can defunding the police create justice? Why?

“Though I cannot speak on the rest of my organization, I do believe that defunding the police will have an impact. In the year 2020, about $189 million was federally allocated to the police while education programs, mental health facilities, and housing are still not receiving sufficient funds. Shoveling these funds into these programs that actually rebuild the community would also decrease crime rates so the need for police would also decrease. The goal should be dismantling and rebuilding the police to allow us to have a system that is not founded on the systematic oppression of minorities. A lot of what is going on with the police has to do with the system's history and the inadequate vetting process, rebuilding a better and more equal justice system could solve a lot of our problems.”

What are some actions that students can take to help ONE (or other organizations) to create equality and justice?

“The first step to creating change is having these conversations. Racial inequality had been an issue in America since it was founded. Having these conversations to learn how many people are impacted by certain issues is important, and allows us to understand why people move the way they do through the world. Another huge step is speaking out against injustice, silence is compliance and when you don’t speak out against injustice you have chosen the side of the oppressor. ONE, along with many other multicultural programs at Babson, host events, and programs where we facilitate these conversations and attending these forums would be super beneficial. We get to check our biases and evaluate social issues in a safe space.”

How would you differentiate equality and equity? Why is this concept particularly significant in college settings/for college students?

“First, this is a great question! Equality is giving everyone equal opportunity while equity is giving everyone the resources they need to receive the same results. A great example of this is the one of the family; a dad, big brother, and little sister all want to see a baseball game over the fence but are too short. If you give them all a one-foot box to stand on then the dad can see over but not the siblings- this is equality, everyone received the same help for the same goal. On the other hand, if you give the dad a one-foot box, the brother a two-feet box, and the sister a three-feet box they can all see over the fence even though their boxes are different heights: equity. Understanding that people need different resources to succeed is especially important in college. We are in classes of 15-40 people and are taught the same thing; however, there are some students who need more or one-on-one. Providing these resources is what allows them to succeed even though not everyone needs the extra help. We all want the same goal to pass but need different aid to get there.”

What are ways students can check their (and others') bias?

“The best way to check your and other biases is by recognizing our privileges. A lot of people think because they work hard and did not have an easy life that they are not privileged. Understanding your privilege is not meant to discredit or invalidate your hard work; it is acknowledging that because of certain features or lifestyles you were able to complete certain goals than other people. However, we all have privileges whether we recognize it or not. Being able to attend and receive a Babson education is a privilege since not everyone can afford to go here. Being able to walk without any aid is a privilege. Moreover, thinking about how you approach people and ideas can make you understand some of the unconscious biases you may have. A lot of us were raised and taught to believe in certain stereotypes and ideals, but noticing how this impacts how you view people can fix a lot of your biases.”

Anything else that students should know?

“Members of ONE would love to have these conversations with you. Educating yourself on issues and accepting that you may be wrong is also a great way to grow into being more inclusive and is the greatest step toward equality.”

With that being said, I hope we can all take this opportunity to educate ourselves and work toward a better future. Please, feel free to reach out to the Babson Free Press with any questions or conversations you would like to have. For a way to get involved within the Babson Community, please visit the Babson Students for Black Lives Matter Instagram page or website. For more ways to get involved globally or to become more informed, visit this collective list of powerful resources.