The Muslim Students’ Association hosted an event Thursday aimed at demonstrating solidarity with Black Lives Matter, an activist movement advocating for the freedom and liberty of people in the Black community.
LSA senior Sarah Khan, a panelist and MSA’s social justice and activism director, said the goal of the event was to combat instances of racism that are found in a variety of communities and expressed by a wide range of identities. Khan is a managing editor for The Michigan Daily’s Michigan In Color section.
“As a non-Black person of color, my hope for this event is to combat the anti-Black racism that is present in my own community,” Khan said. “I hope that this event will give us the foundation to understand why the Muslim community must stand in solidarity with the Black community. This is the MSA beginning to take accountability.”
Panelist Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, began the discussion by asking the audience to take a different approach to identity.
“The term ‘solidarity’ is to me trying to find the common points and stand with someone who is maybe outside of yourself,” Walid said. “I’d like for us to try and reframe this and look at this as us actually being integrally connected and part of each other."
LSA senior Arnold Reed, an adviser to the Black Student Union, was also on the panel. Reed said BSU was the first place he felt at home at the University of Michigan, and emphasized the positive effects finding that the community had on him. Solidarity, he noted, was key to many communities on campus.
“I want to get to the topic of building solidarity, which is why we are all here today — marginalised students here at UMich,” Reed said. "There's Black students, there's Latino students, there's Native American students, and there's not a lot of us here. We can’t afford not to come together in solidarity.”
He stressed the importance of MSA and BSU students attending each other's events for the educational experience.
“If we can erase that petty mindset that comes with University students who are so centered upon making sure that their individual organization or their resume, or these superficial things, are so padded with junk, then we can really make change,” Reed said.
University alum Donavan McKinney, another panelists, took a different approach to the idea of solidarity. Though he echoed Reed's sentiments about coming together as a campus community, McKinney said he advocated for the Muslim and Black communities coming together economically, by making contributions to one another’s organizations and events.
LSA senior Lehman Robinson, who attended the event, said he has personally struggled with the intersectionality of his Black and Muslim identities.
“Being a Black Muslim it is important to combine our communities and I found it hard to be Black and be Muslim at the same time," Robinson said. “I find it harder to go into the BSU being Muslim.”
This is the third and final MSA event for Black Heritage Month. MSA also hosted a discussion of the African and African-American history of Islam, and a talk on mass incarceration from the lens of a Muslim narrative leading up to Thursday's panel.