The AHANA Caucus under the AHANA Leadership Council of UGBC will be hosting Boston College’s inaugural Social Justice Week from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20.
While other groups have previously attempted to organize events surrounding World Day of Social Justice, which takes place this Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 marks the first year that a group is able to organize an entire week devoted to shedding light on various issues of social injustice that take place around the world.
Angel Jehng, CSOM '16, and Co-Director of AHANA Caucus, says that the idea for an entire week devoted to social justice awareness was inspired by two distinct events: the Boko Haram kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian girls, and the “Je Suis Charlie” movement that came out of the Paris shootings in January.
“[The Boko Haram kidnappings] were pretty masked over by this whole “Je Suis Charlie” thing, which is still pretty bad, but how do you compare the two injustices?” said Jehng. “Why does one get more media attention than the other?”
Jehng says the Caucus was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” when thinking about how these injustices affect themselves and the BC community.
These conversations held during Caucus meetings led to the idea of an entire week devoted to social justice, centered on the themes of awareness of media portrayal. To bring light to this theme, this week members of the Caucus are changing their Facebook profile pictures to reflect an issue from their own country or culture that often goes overlooked, such as the Boko Haram kidnappings or the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians.
“The media shouldn’t dictate what we think is important,” said Monica Azmy, A&S '15, and Co-Director of AHANA Caucus. “And at the same time, just because the media didn’t say it, doesn’t mean it’s not important.”
The schedule for the week ranges from film viewings to panel discussions on student experience with issues of social injustice in their own lives. The entire week, though spearheaded by the AHANA Caucus, is a collaborative effort between multiple social-justice oriented groups on campus, such as charity:water, GlobeMed and REACT, as well as a number of culture clubs that are a part of the Caucus.
The AHANA Caucus was founded in 1999 in an effort to facilitate collaboration between the various culture clubs on campus. The Caucus currently consists of 23 culture club representatives, as well as three co-directors. The purpose of having all the culture club representatives in the same room, according to Jehng, is to allow for collaboration and networking outside of each club’s individual community.
Azmy says that belonging to the Caucus serves more than just practical purposes. “When we have all the different culture club representatives in one room, there’s a lot of potential for breaking down the social polarization on BC’s campus that exists between different groups,” she said. “You’re reaching out beyond your cultural comfort zone, and it’s definitely one of the most diverse groups you’ll see on campus.”
While Caucus has been in existence for over fifteen years, its lack of visibility beyond Caucus members has limited the reach of its programs, says Jehng. “This is a big first step, showing our stance on these issues. This week will give us more of a voice and more of a platform.”
For Azmy, hosting Social Justice Week and spreading awareness about these various issues is just the beginning. “A reason why social injustices are problems to begin with is that we like to ‘other’ other cultures and problems, and once we realize that everything affects everyone, we realize that it’s our responsibility to be aware if we’re given the opportunity,” she said. “Awareness is important but it needs to lead to action.”
Social Justice Week begins tonight at 8 p.m. with a screening of Fatal Assistance by the Caribbean Culture Club and the Haitian Association. The week culminates with World Social Justice Day on Friday, Feb. 20, which will involve several different student groups tabling across campus in an effort to further spread awareness about social injustices.
For more information about Social Justice Week, check out the event on Facebook. Visit the United Nations website to learn more about the World Day of Social Justice, which takes place this Friday, Feb. 20.