Things we learned at the Reality of Islamophobia teach-in

Last night, a group of students and faculty members gathered in the Petteruti lounge for a teach-in entitled “Muslims at Brown and the Reality of Islamophobia.” The room quickly filled with people and boxes of pizza.

The event began with a quick introduction by Adnan Adrian Wood-Smith, the Associate Chaplain of the University for the Muslim community, who outlined the layout of the next 30 minutes. He then introduced Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson, Chaplain of the University. Reverend Nelson spoke briefly, noting that Brown has a rich and diverse religious community and that, since its founding, Brown has always been religiously neutral “in terms of of who taught here and who studied here.”

Provost Richard Locke then spoke briefly, emphasizing that politicians and the media have used recent events for their own gain in many cases and that it is of utmost importance that all members of the Brown University community listen and “take care of one another.”

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After the provost finished speaking, the organizers showed a video entitled “American Muslims: Fact vs. Fiction.” The video began with an overview of a few stereotypes of Muslims that are often perpetuated in Western media, such as the idea that “all Muslims are terrorists” or that “Muslim women are oppressed.” Following these statements, the video sought to explain that these stereotypes are inaccurate. For example, only 6% of domestic terrorist events in the US involve Muslim people or are motivated by Islam, and Muslims compose 82-97% of those killed or injured by terrorist attacks. Muslims are the religious group in the US that is most likely to believe that other religious groups can reach salvation, and Muslims are more likely than any other religious group to believe that killing civilians is never justified. In spite of this, only 27% of United States citizens have a favorable view of Islam.

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Students organize Blackout at Brown and teach-in in solidarity with Mizzou

A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.

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Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”

Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”

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In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”

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Takeaways from The Verdict: community discussion on the events of Ferguson, Missouri

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Following the the silent, peaceful and powerful Die-In Protest, students gathered at the Brown-RISD Hillel at 5 pm to vocalize their feelings towards the events of Ferguson, MO.

After seeing a case that has captivated the country’s attention and caused so much student response, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity hosted the event with one clear purpose: “To provide a background into the events surrounding the verdict of whether to indict Darren Wilson, including the events surrounding the murder of Mike Brown and the climate of Ferguson after these events.” 

While the participants in the discussion expressed their own tear-jerking opinions, the moderators, Ricardo Mullings ‘15.5 and Godwin Tsado ’16, provided a comprehensive, clear guide to the facts of the case and the consequent media coverage. This is what we all should know:

The evidence and Darren Wilson’s testimony.

On August 9th, Michael Brown was jaywalking when Officer Darren Wilson asked him to move to the sidewalk. According to Wilson, when he tried to exit his vehicle to approach Brown, Brown closed the car door before he could get out, which started an altercation. The officer claims that after receiving a blow to the head from Brown, he drew his weapon. Wilson said that he was scared for his life, and that he “felt like a five year old holding onto Hulk Hogan,” in the presence of Brown. He also claims that he was assaulted by Brown, and was diagnosed with a bruise in the mandibular joint area, or the jaw. After the assault, Brown grabbed the weapon, perhaps to intentionally jam it, or maybe to use it on the officer.

The gun itself was never tested for Brown’s prints, only his blood DNA, but either way it resulted in two shots that hit Brown, causing him to flee from the officer. As Wilson pursued Brown, he fired 10 more shots, six of which hit and ended the 18 year old’s life. The autopsy showed that none of the bullets hit Brown in the back, however witnesses say that the officer fired his weapon while Brown was fleeing, which caused the unarmed teenager to turn around, either in surrender or in retaliation depending on who you ask, as he faced six more bullets. Brown’s body was found 153 feet away from the officer’s vehicle.

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#AYOTZINAPA comes to Brown with teach-in, exhibit

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Did you see these 43 empty chairs set up on the Main Green today? Did you walk by them without figuring out what they were for? It’s fine, you probably aren’t alone in that. But these chairs, an exhibit titled “We are the 43 still missing,” were there as an homage to the 43 students at a Mexican teachers college that disappeared this September after an encounter with local police. The students were on their way to a protest when they were arrested — after a gunfight in which 10 other students died — handed over to a cartel called the United Warriors, and presumably murdered. Each chair on the Main Green today had a portrait of one of the missing students on it. Their disappearance has sparked outrage both in Mexico and around the world.

Last night, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies hosted a teach-in on the tragedy in Iguala, the town in which the Normal University of Ayotzinapa is located. The Center’s director, Richard Snyder, moderated the panel, which consisted of four women: Janice Gallagher, Paula Martínez  ’17, Atenea Rosado-Viurques, and Camila Ruiz ’18.

Before any of the panelists spoke to a packed Kassar Foxboro auditorium, however, Snyder showed a 5 minute video titled “Mexico: The Wound of the World” to provide some context. Since the beginning of the use of the military against drug cartels in 2006, levels of violence have exploded. The country’s poorest states, including Guerrero, where these students were from, have faced disproportionate amounts this violence.

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What to do this week: October 6 – 12

 

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Monday, October 6:

Event: The Future of Democracy in Hong Kong: A Teach In
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Wilson 102

Featuring five panelists from different universities, this teach-in will focus on the recent ruling by the Chinese National People’s Congress that declared that all candidates for Chief Executive in Hong Kong must be approved by a pro-Beijing election committee.

Event: Students on Israel and Palestine, Take Two
Time: 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. Location: Salomon 003

This meta-discussion will focus on the way we discuss Israel-Palestine on campus – the many forums, lectures, groups and panels interacting with the subject.

Event: 2nd Chinese Women’s Documentary Film Festival
Time: Various showings throughout the day, check FB page for more info
Location: Metcalf Auditorium

This film festival features Chinese-origin directors from around the world. Today is the final day of screenings and symposiums with directors.

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Live Blog: Ferguson Teach-In