by Daniea Baslan
“To my daughter I will say, when men come, set yourself on fire.”
– Warsan Shire, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth
As I was pondering what to do for the activism post I realized, what isn’t there to do? There are so many issues in the world that dividing yourself and giving attention to one simply isn’t my cup of tea. Ever since I was a child my career goals have constantly changed depending on what I believed was the most dire emergency. I went from wanting to be a worm doctor, to an OB/GYN (why are young girls taught to love babies?), to serving in the army, to psychiatrist, to a sex therapist, to a writer, then a political scientist, then I wanted to double major in criminal justice and sociology, finally making a decision to pursue the study of international relations and law. Each stage of our lives reflects a certain degree of what matters the most. How do you choose what matters the most when you care about everything?
I remember reading Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth; it changed my perception on literature. The book is a series of poems about a young girl’s experience of displacement. It shocked me how fifty words could turn a light bulb on in my head about how much I needed to talk about women being mistreated in my family. This book sparked my interest and made me want to write about how to help women in third world countries. Just when I thought I was done and had reached my peak, I wanted to do more.
Discussions of race, politics, and gender linger around the Duquesne community. As a non-white person I was born with the ability to speak outside the realms of white privilege. My power and my demise were not something I was given or could choose. My Middle Eastern blood gives me the ability to always have passion, to feel angst, and to use my voice for all of it. My activism is through my intersectionality, because we learn that privilege exists in everything, oppression exists, personal is political, and the human environment will never be the same for one person (culture, language, and socio-economic factors will always play a part in how one is raised).
Another text we read in class was Chimamanda Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists she discusses how everyone’s portrayal connects to a system of institutions whether its education, marriage, or religion, it ultimately comes down to power and that power is usually in the wrong hands. These hands that belong to men in Nigeria where Adichie was born believe feminists are men hating women that don’t shower, but these hands in America are men that oppress women in the smallest micro-aggressions. This is just one example of oppression based on gender.
This activism post isn’t so much to tell you what I’ve done or aspire to do its to encourage the reader, whomever that may be, to not stop at just one thing. If you care about Black Lives Matter then go out and protest, or post on your social media but don’t just stop at that. If you care about BLM and feminism channel that energy into something positive and start local.
Overall, what I’m trying to say is, don’t stay silent. Get involved and always keep an open mind. There are so many things to do locally that pertain to hot topics currently happening in politics. Get involved in your fair share of these groups and check out these events.
Casa San Jose– “On International Workers Day, we demand economic and racial justice for all workers. We ask that you stand with us against the racist legislation violating our civil and human rights. The fact that 52% of Black and 60% of Latino workers still make less than $15 an hour. Against the criminalization of people in policy and in practice. Against the fact that LGBTQ people of color are more likely to be victims of hate crimes.
The only path to winning justice for all workers is the liberation of black, brown, and queer people. Our country would be paralyzed without our work, but that does not give anyone license to exploit and police our bodies.
The work that people of color do matters, but people of color do not matter simply because of their work.
We need to expand the rights of ALL immigrants and people of color. Politicians at the local, state, and federal level must act to expand and protect rights and publicly oppose legislation that attacks workers, immigrants, and communities of color.
So to our political “leaders” who support legislation that fuels the systematic cycle of oppression which terrorizes black communities, empowers ICE to kidnap our neighbors, and heighten US violent intervention in foreign countries:
Your words are empty. We see exactly what you stand for, and we will not remain silent.
We have been told we are not welcome. We have been told that we don’t belong in this country, that this place was not made for us, that we do not have a right to exist authentically here. Immigrant parents are being ripped away from their children, black children are being brutalized by police and teachers alike, indigenous homes are being destroyed for oil profit, and queer and trans youth are pushed out and unsupported and ignored.
We must defend each other and fight alongside each other, not because our struggles are the same, but because our brown, black, queer lives are worth defending in their own right. If we do not realize this, then our movement will only inflict the same violence on each other that this country inflicts on us.”
Multicultural Program Council- Sex Education and The Lack Of It
April 20th, 8 PM, Multi Purpose Room in Towers