Sep 26, 2022 - News

Bostonian, Black and thriving

Five Black business and health care leaders discuss increasing access and equity in the Boston area.

From left, Sabrina Correia of JP Morgan Chase, Sheena Collier of Boston While Black, Derrick Young Jr. of Leadership Brainery, Leslie Forde of Mom's Hierarchy of Needs and Charles Anderson of Dimock Health Center. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

Like it or not, Boston still has a reputation for being predominantly white and, albeit liberal, racist. Boston While Black is trying to change that narrative — and so far it's working.

Driving the news: Sheena Collier, CEO of Boston While Black, spoke at the Mass Black Expo Friday about how her network has brought together Black professionals and students over music, food, science and other interests.

  • The group launched in July 2020 with 100 members and has since grown to more than 1,000 members.
  • "Boston While Black's vision is to reimagine cities where Black people are thriving because Black experiences, community and culture are prominent and abundant and easily accessible," Collier said in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Roughly one-quarter of Boston's population is Black, yet the city's Black residents seem absent in movies, music, memes and other popular depictions of Boston.

Flashback: Collier went to Harvard University for graduate school in the mid-2000s and struggled to find a sense of community in the Boston area, an issue Black Boston-area transplants often face.

  • Collier has mostly stayed in Boston since and continued to see the need for a group that builds community. So she created one herself.

Details: Boston While Black now hosts meetups, candidate forums and other events around the city.

  • The organization works with companies to help retain talent and will soon start helping universities recruit Black faculty members and connect Black students with the city.

Plus: Boston While Black inspired the creation of a "late night czar" position after asking then-candidate Michelle Wu in a forum who in city government would be in charge of revamping the city's nightlife.


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