Last weekend, almost 3,000 protestors mobilized in Ann Arbor to rally for the Palestinian people and shed light on this terrible humanitarian crisis. Palestine and Israel’s ongoing conflict has brought harm to both sides as they clash over land rights. The consequence of highly controversial issues is that the humanity of the victims of injustice is ignored. Their worth is stripped down by the dehumanizing and apathetic debates we are surrounded by. For this reason, seeing protestors on the University of Michigan campus brought me a surge of hope. At my college, on my campus, in my community, we were able to preserve the humanity of a people that has been silenced, and consequently, we are able to hope for a brighter future. To see thousands of people mobilize in Ann Arbor brings me hope, and I can only pray it brings solace to the Palestinians who are suffering right now.
In an increasingly connected world, we bear witness to millions of atrocities and humanitarian crises all over the globe. From our backyard to halfway across the world, there is widespread inequality and injustice. It’s easy to get lost in politics and ignore what doesn’t directly concern us, but in doing so, we invalidate the struggle of a whole group of people and diminish their worth. A world with almost eight billion people comes with eight billion reasons to hope for justice, peace and equality. Global humanity needs to be preserved. We need to empathize with the victims of injustice and hold the people in power accountable.
It has become abundantly clear to me that the University’s campus is a core location for movements to mobilize and organize. It is on this campus that people protest, strike and demand accountability from the people in power. It is on this campus where we can, and should, preserve humanity. It is among the thousands of students where conversations are started and where empathy is fostered.
This year, my bedroom has been my classroom — my college has been a desk in the corner, a laptop, my niche habitat. It’s been difficult to imagine myself as a part of a wider student community, as engaged in the different events on campus. Despite this, I was able to participate in important conversations from the comfort of my bedroom. In the first few months of my freshman year, the graduate students (Graduate Employees’ Organization) went on strike. I clearly remember each of my graduate student instructors actively discussing their position with us, what they were fighting for, and who they were doing it for: us, the student body. There were many ways in which I could participate remotely, such as attending “Zoom strike meetings.” Although their demands were not met, I felt incredibly affirmed that there are people who care about the same things I do and are working to make the campus a more accepting place for all.
We come to college for education; this includes what we can learn from activism, raising awareness and starting important conversations. Protests, rallying and mobilization are ingrained in college culture and are crucial to preserving and maintaining our humanity. The University of Michigan plays its fair part in these conversations and movements.
This upcoming fall we will all (hopefully) be physically present, and thus directly interacting with each other. This begs the question: How will we continue to use our positions to support different movements, to rally and mobilize?
In light of this, let’s make the conscious decision to choose benevolence over violence, to choose empathy over division. Let’s use our positions, big or small, to be open-minded, learn what we can and, in the process, preserve our collective humanity.
Daily Arts Writer Zoha Khan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.