The hateful and dangerous act of Islamophobia committed on the Washington Ave Bridge underscores the need for each and every member of the campus community to reject hate, xenophobia and racism on the University of Minnesota campus. As valued members of the University of Minnesota, we recognize the contributions that Muslim students bring to campus and forcefully, swiftly and unequivocally condemn the disgusting act of hatred that was displayed on the bridge and all other acts of Islamophobia throughout our country. This is important, now more than ever, with the result of our national presidential election finalized. Hate is in many ways normalized, accepted and promoted. It is imperative to preserve the rights of our fellow members of this campus community and denounce hate with swiftness and resolve.
What does standing up to denounce Islamophobia and hate have to do with sustainability? Everything. If justice and equity for all on our campus is not afforded, we are facing a very unsustainable future. Members of environmental and sustainability groups on campus have a responsibility and duty to see the intersectional nature of our work – that standing up for racial and social justice is a cornerstone of environmental and sustainability movements, not something that is additional or extra to the cause. A clear and present example of this intersection is the fight for racial and environmental justice at Standing Rock in North Dakota, where individuals and groups from across the spectrum of environmental and sustainability action in the United States and around the world are standing with indigenous peoples.
Van Jones, a CNN contributor and former Green Jobs Czar in the Obama administration was recently on campus to speak as part of the Power and Privilege series, sponsored by Multicultural Student Engagement. Mr. Jones said: “what I would pray for…is that the people who are deeply wounded by that kind of ‘build the wall’, ‘lock them up’, ‘ban the Muslims’, and all that kind of stuff, to get very good at pleading your case”. I think Mr. Jones’ plea for “people who are deeply wounded” should resonate for everyone on this campus. This wounds all of us. In hearing that message from Mr. Jones, I was struck by how this hate is most damaging and painful to our Muslim Brothers and Sisters and how damaging hate is to the entirety of our campus community. It undermines every group and individual’s purpose and mission on campus if we do not stand up against it. The choice is ours and I hope we’ll continue to speak out and demand justice whenever and wherever we see hate.
Banner photo courtesy of Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.