April 1, 2012

Searching for Social Justice

This week was unexpectedly full of conversations about social justice, humanitarianism and the idea of ‘hate’ and hate crime. On Wednesday, I attended a brown bag entitled ‘What Does an Immigrant Look Like?’ which presented a panel of 3 faculty/staff members and 2 students who shared their experience of being immigrants in the United States. While the experiences varied from coming to the United States as a student to following family members in their move, there were common themes to each of the stories. One of these themes was the feeling of being torn between two cultures that are equally dismissive of their identity. Another theme was how moving to the United States immediately stripped most families of their social status as their education, employment and hard work did not matter as much, or at all, on American soil. Lastly, they each spoke more or less about the ‘leech’ misconception; how immigrants take jobs and housing, when in reality they are a strong facet of the work force: paying the same on taxes as the next person and not seeing any return from them.

Poster for Anatomy of Hate

Along a similar vein, later that night I attended the screening of a documentary called ‘Anatomy of Hate.’ The film looked at the White Supremacist movement, anti-gay Christian Fundamentalism, Muslim extremism, the Palestinian Intifada, Israeli settlers and soldiers, and US Forces in Iraq, trying to find similarities in the experiences that speak to the human propensity for ‘hate.’

The conclusion came down to the fact that culture is a human construct whose main purpose is to provide us with ‘immortality systems.’ Being a conscious species that understands our imminent death, we search for ways to keep ourselves alive. Cultural significance is the way that the human race has decided to continue its own personal legacy, and when there are competing cultures and threatened peoples, there is a propagation of hate. The director says that as we seek ‘human’ connection and connect to the being beneath the social construct, there is no longer an ability to hate.

Lastly, a moving rally for social justice in response to the death of Trayvon Martin happened on Thursday during lunchtime in Farinon. Students dressed in hoodies and wore signs on their fronts during a march around the atrium. Students and faculty stood up to speak about their reactions and what should be done next in response to acts like these. While it is always difficult to sort out your emotions towards things like hate and acts of violence, I admire the Lafayette student body for providing so many opportunities to learn and expand our perspectives on issues close to home and around the world.

posted in Morgan West


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