Thinking and acting globally with Amer Rashid

Addison Crane

CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR 

Social Justice Coalition (SJC) put on Social Justice Week April 15 – 18, co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Whittier College ASWC, Program Board, the Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI), and Heal Resist. A few of these events included a Spilling the Tea on Diversity: Socioeconomic Status and Access, a SJC identity beads workshop on the same day where students got to make bracelets with each bead color representing a different part of their identity outside of the Campus Inn, an “ask a sexologist” talk featuring Dr. Justine Shuey on April 18, and a talk by alumnus and former ASWC Senate President Amer Rashid class of 2017 April 19 called “Beyond Bombs & Beards.”

Rashid’s talk explored the plight of Muslims around the world, stereotypes, and how we as young adults can get involved in activism. With Ramadan coming up in a few weeks, Rashid also touched on recent attacks that have been made against Muslims both locally in the U.S. and worldwide. His activism does not just focus on local tragedies. “If you think globally, you act globally,” Rashid said. This explains that our solidarity with Muslims should not only extend to our most local cities, but should far surpass every border. 

The threat of another attack happening during the holy month has only caused more fear and anxiety in the Muslim community. 

The month of Ramadan changes each year according to the Islamic calendar, but this year it is from May 5 – June 4. Because Ramadan is so sacred (as it is one of the five pillars of Islam), with Muslims all over the world coming together to pray in their respective mosques, having a safe space for Muslims is most important. Rashid shares the fear of mosques potentially being attacked during the holy time. “What’s going to happen this [following] month?” he said to his audience. “That’s all I’ve been able to think about, quite frankly.” 

In 2001, Rashid’s parents kept him home for part of that year’s Ramadan, which followed the Sept. 11 attacks, because they were not sure if leaving their homes to pray would be safe. Rashid stressed how important it is for non-Muslims to be aware of how Muslims are being treated in our own backyard. Thinking on a more local level, Rashid recalled in his talk how the Islamic Center of Modesto has been rebuilt four times since 2005. 

Rashid then gave some tips to the audience on how they can engage in activism and justice advocacy. When Rashid graduated from Whittier, he realized that because he had the chance to attend college and was privileged because of that, he needed to check himself as an activist. When things weren’t changing fast enough, Rashid would get frustrated, and in an effort to combat this, he needed to put together “a game plan” for “appropriate and efficient and successful advocacy.” Something seemingly as small as helping someone register to vote and making sure there are polling places on campus is an example of a game plan for good advocacy, according to Rashid. 

When it comes to activism, Rashid explained that we “cannot leave out any community’s fight for justice,” and when you are supporting a community that is not your own, “your voice should never be louder than the members of that community.”