An important coalition is building on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and it is kicking off tonight at Sterling Hall with an event titled “In Solidarity: From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine.”
“It’s functioning as a kick-off event and also as an announcement of a new platform but it’s part of a big ongoing conversation that has been going on around campus on how do we build solidarities that go between and among movements that are working towards justice,” says Nathan Beck, of Students for Justice in Palestine. “The event is about bringing all of these groups together and about planning for the future. So we want to talk about these individual movements but also the interconnectedness between them and how it is imperative that we work together.”
“In Solidarity: From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine” will also be the official launch of a new group called “The Coalition” that will connect the work that multiple groups are doing on the UW campus to bring people together in meaningful ways. The Coalition includes such groups as All Minds Matter, Axolote, ASM Equity and Inclusion Committee, MEChA, SECE, State of Emergency, Students for Justice in Palestine, TAA-PSC, and Wisconsin Black Student Union.
The Coalition has drawn inspiration from the “When I See Them, I see Us” video released by black and Palestinian activists that have brought light to similar challenges that both communities face on a national scale.
“While we’re definitely borrowing from other examples of coalition building and solidarity work across the country, we also have trouble identifying similar coalitions that are happening in a university setting. So, I feel like we are doing something new here, too, and that’s very exciting,” says Hana Masri of Axolote, a multicultural student group at the UW-Madison.
The three keynote speakers at “In Solidarity: From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine” will elaborate on the great intersectionalities between the different struggles.
◆ Ahmed Hamad is a Palestinian activist from Gaza who will be speaking on his personal experiences in occupied Gaza and how living under such oppressive conditions effects the Palestinian people.
◆ Todd St. Hill is an organizer with We Charge Genocide’s Cop Watch program, which trains and promotes on-the-ground recording of police activity. St. Hill came to Chicago from Washington, D.C. and will be drawing parallels between police violence in the two cities. ◆ Kathy Villalon is a Ph.D. student here at UW-Madison in Education. She will be speaking on the injustices in Mexico, Ayotzinapa, the US/Mexico border, and Femicidios.
The Coalition released the following statement in anticipation of tonight’s event:
We, representatives of The Coalition, come together in solidarity recognizing that our struggles for social, economic, and ecological justice and a transformed world are interdependent. The last several decades have seen a rise of militarism, capitalism, color blindness and state sanctioned violence that has continued to target Black, Brown, Poor, Palestinian, Working Class, Womxn, Queer, and Trans bodies. We have resisted, laid our bodies on the line to rupture unjust systems, and carved out small spaces to live in justice. This resistance has been successful, and, yet, white supremacy, patriarchy, neo-liberal capitalism, and occupation continue to dominate. Our earth and our hearts bear the scars, and the scale of such injustice puts us all at risk.
We know that we must match this scale. We are no longer satisfied with carving out small spaces to breathe while our families, our friends, our communities, and our earth bear the consequences of uninterrupted exploitation and violence.
“Currently the population of black students on campus is just above 2 percent. The Latino percentage is 5 percent. The Asian percentage is also 5 percent and it is less than 1 percent for Native Americans,” says Jessica Franco-Morales of State of Emergency. “I think that speaks volumes on why it is imperative that we all work together. We all recognize that we have different struggles, but we all have the same struggles, too. Being students of color and underrepresented in a predominantly white institution, it’s really important that we aren’t working in isolation. It’s easier for the university to ignore us if we are doing it alone.”
For more information about “In Solidarity: From Ferguson to Mexico to Palestine” or about The Coalition, e-mail Nathan Beck at [email protected]