Workshop by UndocuTribe, Students United discusses intricacies of social justice

0
130
The event, held by both Students United and UndocuTribe, was held in the Wesley Campus Ministries. COURTESY IMAGE / WM.EDU

Students United and UndocuTribe hosted an event entitled “When is there a time for Justice” Sunday, Sept. 15 in the Wesley Campus Ministries Fellowship room. The event was designed as a workshop that included both active audience participation and a presentation from the event’s key speaker, Women of Color Speak Out Co-founder Zarina Joshi.

UndocuTribe President Aida Campos ’20 began the event by speaking about what the goal of the event was and illustrating the importance of working together with separate on-campus groups.

“A group of us on campus felt that this would be a really wonderful workshop for us, because I feel there are so many organizations, student activists and advocates on campus and sometimes you’re all working on the same goals without realizing it,” Campos said. “I think coalition building is something that could be useful for all of us to learn from, to pull resources together and join forces because at the end we are fighting for a lot of the same goals.”

Then Kibirti Majuto ’21 addressed the audience and shared how Majuto and Joshi got in touch and provided insight as to how this event was organized.

“Zarina was touring the South and notified me that she would be coming to the South, so I said ‘you should come to Virginia, there’s so much that we could learn from you,’ and Zarina asked me to help organize at a college space and that’s how it started,” Majuto said.

“Zarina was touring the South and notified me that she would be coming to the South, so I said ‘you should come to Virginia, there’s so much that we could learn from you,’ and Zarina asked me to help organize at a college space and that’s how it started,” Majuto said.

Joshi, who is an avid political activist, is a co-founding member of Women of Color Speak Out and a representative of For the People. Joshi spoke on the intricacies found in climate change activism and societal and political discrimination, and the presentation focused on systems of oppression found throughout modern and historical societies that have led to both climate change and rampant discrimination.

Joshi described these forms of oppression in detail and listed out specific examples they have seen and what effects were found. Joshi specifically mentioned the ways in which the Native-American culture was destroyed and taken over by European colonizers.

“In Climate Justice we talk about the four systems of oppression being capitalism, colonialism, racism and patriarchy … One of the ways they destroyed them is that they imposed the culture of the colonist. The reason why were all speaking English today is because the English language was imposed on all of us. … Another way that they imposed their culture is through diet … we may have taken some of [Native Americans’] crops but we don’t eat the food the way they ate it.”

Joshi further explained the specificities found in capitalism, colonialism, racism and patriarchy. Joshi detailed specifically where in American culture each system of oppression can be visible, and delineated how each factor directly related to climate change. These factors included the overproduction of food and waste from capitalistic gains and political aspects that keep portions of the world in less-than-ideal environmental conditions.

Joshi then split up the audience into three smaller groups and had them discuss the forms of oppression seen throughout multiple real-world examples. The groups each spent time sharing their thoughts with each other, describing the ways in which each example had the many forms of oppression embodied in them.

Some groups argued that colonialism never really stopped, but instead has rebranded; others indicated that the majority of the prisoner population in the United States is from minority groups for a reason. The audience members took time to carefully analyze how Joshi’s specified forms of oppression are presented, and examine how they’re hidden in modern American society.

Joshi also took time in the presentation to share both the story of Women of Color Speak Out and her own experiences as an activist. Joshi described where this specific type of activism came from and what her group has grown to do. 

Joshi then shared how her own personal experiences with discrimination and harassment allowed her to further spread her message and use her voice.

“We don’t tell people what to do, that’s obnoxious, it’s patriarchy, it’s maternal, and it’s garbage, so we don’t do that; what we do is we tell our story,” Joshi said.

“We don’t tell people what to do, that’s obnoxious, it’s patriarchy, it’s maternal, and it’s garbage, so we don’t do that; what we do is we tell our story,” Joshi said. “Is in your communities your organizing it can help to validate you to actually hear about what other people are doing; it can also help to spark ideas.”

Joshi mentioned how Women of Color Speak Out was received by its audience and how it pushed them to continue to work to empower the minority voice.

“What we saw is that when we took our power, when we took our position of leadership, it turned out that there was a hunger for that, that people actually wanted to hear from us; people actually wanted to see people of color leadership,” Joshi said. “That was encouraging, we said ‘okay, great, we need to keep this going forward.’”

During the presentation, Joshi described the many ways in which activism is important and where things tend to go wrong. She mentioned how so many people try to appeal to the side of the argument against them, instead of just further uniting the people who already support them. 

The presentation focused on the racial discrepancies found in activism and how the white majority was needed in activism to protect minorities and their voices, but not overpower them.

Joshi spoke on areas where society has strayed into negative habits, and discussed why our criminal justice system is failing. She shared the importance of rethinking and the understanding of new ideas. Joshi made it clear that significant climate change cannot happen without the uplifting of all voices, and the destruction of the forms of oppression found in our societies.

“What is wrong with our system is that people are harming each other; what is so wrong with our system is that people are stealing; what is so wrong with our system is [that people] take from others, harm others and exploit others; what is so wrong with our system is that we think we’re going to fix it by putting them in cages,” Joshi said. “It’s important to keep that in mind, that we have to decolonize is our minds.”

Joshi has done a plethora of activist work all over the country and spends her time sharing her story and the need for change in climate policy and activism. Joshi has a series of YouTube videos titled “Zarina Responds” that explain many of her ideas and messages that have gained thousands of views. Joshi will continue to travel and speak on the importance of minority voices in climate change and the perpetuating factors of oppression in society.