Graduate Muslim Student Association hosts discussion about Islamophobia, Black Lives Matter, presidential race
The mounting racial tensions in the United States have led to many conversations about things such as Islamophobia, the 2016 presidential candidates and social movements like Black Lives Matter.
The relationship between the three is dehumanization, said Shabbir Abbas, a Graduate School of New Brunswick student and president of the Graduate Muslim Student Association.
“The struggle of the African-American community is something that all minorities benefit from," he said. "The blood that the African-American community shed is the reason why other communities don’t have to sacrifice as much, so it is necessary for other minority communities to understand and respect the African-American community."
Many of these conversations are happening on college campuses around the country. Rutgers students have recently been discussing the value of this type of rhetoric following a visit from Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
The Graduate Muslim Student Association is one group that seeks to open up the conversation on campus. The group is not attempting to eliminate Islamophobia, but rather uncover its roots, according to their Facebook page.
And on Feb. 16, the group held an event in the Graduate Student Lounge in the College Avenue Student Center, focusing on the intersection of the different movements as they relate to Black History Month.
The event was sponsored by the New Brunswick Area NAACP, Nation of Islam, Ahlul-Bayt Student Association, Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU), MuslimGirl Rutgers, Palestine Children's Relief Fund at Rutgers, Rutgers NB Students for Justice in Palestine and the Verbal Mayhem Poetry Collective.
The event lasted from 8 to 10:30 p.m. and included two speakers, a spoken word group and a roast of businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The speakers and acts included Verbal Mayhem, Wahy-ud Deen Shareef, convener of The Council of Imams in New Jersey (CINJ) and Linnie Muhammad, student minister of Muhammad Mosque 85 in New Brunswick.
“There’s not too much discussion on Islamophobia in relation to black history and I thought this would be very important especially in terms of intersectionality,” said Dena Igusti, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year
It is important for student groups to address issues like Islamophobia because they are pressing, yet often overlooked in a classroom setting, Shareef said.
“The first thing that we hope will come as a result of events like this is that people will begin to think,” Shareef said. "The purpose of going to an institution of higher education is really to begin to open up the minds of those who are in the classrooms to understand that the source of knowledge is the creation itself."
Kristen Charlery is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.