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On March 24th, the University of Georgia’s Amnesty International Group hosted their first ever ‘Fight Night,’ an event in which intersectionality, along with civil and human rights, took the front stage. Amongst the panel of speakers, a particularly infamous name in the Muslim American community stood out, Linda Sarsour. Below are a few responses to the event from attendees:
“I was blown away by the event. It was so great that Amnesty International was able to get Linda Sarsour to attend this event. It speaks volumes that a non-Muslim organization invited Linda to come speak because of how important it is for different groups to come together and fight for each other. The most powerful part of the event for me was hearing the stories from Linda and Raquel about different communities coming together and fighting for a shared cause, and sometimes not even a shared cause. The event only reinforced the need for collaboration and coalition building among different minority groups and reminded me that it is imperative for us to fight for others, instead of just our own communities.”
“The first annual Fight Night at the University of Georgia, hosted by Amnesty International and the Muslim Students Association, was an incredible conversation on the current fight for civil rights. The panel included Linda Sarsour and Raquel Willis, two very influential individuals who spoke about their experiences, the challenges they have faced, the stereotypes they have dispeled, and the successes they have achieved.”
The main focus of the discussion was intersectionality, an engaging topic for student organizations, such as Athens for Justice in Palestine (AJP), who have begun to take direct action on campus. For example, AJP recently disrupted an event held by Dawgs for Israel, who invited IDF soldiers to the university. Linda Sarsour addressed concerns about opposition, telling the diverse audience that, by not supporting one another and staying quiet on issues we don't believe pertain to us, we are setting future generations up for failure because they won't have role models to look back at. The opposition, however, encourages intersectionality, as Linda stated. Without consistency in solidarity, our efforts will be ineffective.
The event was one that was definitely needed, especially for a campus where marginalized groups are continuously raising their voices to be heard. Looking around the room, I could see multitudes of representatives for women, Blacks, undocumented students, Palestinians, LGBTQ, and so many more eager to learn how to fight for their own rights and the rights of one another. Issues such as mass incarceration and systematic racism were connected between Palestinians and Blacks, providing just one example of intersectionality between two groups of people. We were reminded that, just because we don't know about global issues, doesn't mean they are not happening, which is incredibly relevant to our generation's use of social media. Staying informed and educating one another, whether it be through direct action, social media, or conversation, is imperative to the success of civil and human rights movements.
It was great to not only learn about the struggles different communities are facing, but about the efforts those respective communities and their allies are taking to combat discrimination. Encouraging students to be well-informed, civically engaged, and active against systems that deny groups access to their rights is absolutely inspiring for someone who wants to make a difference on their own campus. Linda and Raquel deserve much thanks and appreciation for serving as proof that direct action can and will make a change.
We were left with encouragement from Raquel Willis to "stay woke" because "consciousness is a never-ending journey." We had the opportunity to ask questions and take pictures with the speakers. All “Fight Night’s” activities were very inviting for all students attending regardless of their faith, gender, ethnicity, race, or sexual orientation.
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