Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), part of Apartheid Awareness Week, hosted their annual open mic night on March 8 in Coal Ben, where students from various backgrounds shared their feelings through spoken word, embraced their culture by performing a dabke dance, and even got the audience to laugh with a standup comedy act.
“There are a lot of people who personally have families who are going through the apartheid, so raising awareness about what’s going on is very important. At the same time, there are a lot of people who don’t know what’s going on at all, so educating the people comes along with the awareness,” SJP president Abdel-Rhman Mohamed said.
Although the issue isn’t personal to Mohamed, he said the board members understand that the oppression that is happening in Palestine requires attention from all.
“That’s what I like about this club…. So personally, I’m Egyptian and my country is going through its own personal problems…but we have people on the board that aren’t even Arab, and we have few who come from a different country but we all come together with the same thought that Palestine as a country has been through so much that it deserves our primary focus and our primary attention to raise awareness for it,” Mohamed said.
While raising awareness through a cultural event, a scavenger hunt, and a documentary about social injustices taking place in Palestine, Mohamed said he wanted to make sure students have fun and gain knowledge at the same time. For Mohamed, the most powerful thing about the week was the picture event during their general body meeting.
“During our GBM we went around holding pictures of things that are happening in Palestine. So you would see destroyed homes and other things and you’d ask people what are your opinions on what’s going on in the picture….I had a picture that had a used grenade with a flower in it, and that was the picture that I was holding. People looked at it and said it’s a flower pot, and it’s that simple, but the reality behind it was that it was a used grenade. Because the land is a warzone, something as simple as a flower pot, their only resources to do that are used grenades found on the floor which are very common. So that really hits home for me,” Mohamed said.
Seeing the SJP events throughout the week, freshman, Iqra Majid, said she decided to stand in solidarity through spoken word during open mic night.
“I’ve seen [SJP] around campus and I really wanted to support them and I also like poetry and that is one way I could support them…I talked about the conflict and what we can do to change it and how we can love more, not hate more and to basically look at each other as humans,” Majid said.