Update 5/29/19 5:35 p.m.: This article has been updated. It originally attributed a quote to Dr. Tahereh Aghdasifar that was said by Dr. Mairead Sullivan. It now correctly attributes the quote to Sullivan.
Last Thursday, a group of seniors majoring in women's and gender studies hosted a panel titled “Rights, Reform and Histories of Resistance" in celebration of Women's History Month.
The panel consisted of political science professor Dr. Andrew Dilts, women's and gender studies professors Dr. Mairead Sullivan and Dr. Tahereh Aghdasifar, and African American studies professor Dr. Jennifer Williams.
Here are our three takeaways from the event:
3. Rights do not equal recognition. Dr. Sullivan discussed how she challenges the idea of rights being the solution to social injustice in her classes.
"We're confronted with social issues and the response is often 'if everyone just had equal rights, then this would go away,'" Dr. Sullivan said. "The meaning behind rights becomes erased [when] we're not actually talking about the systems that are broken and disenfranchising in the first place."
Dr. Williams used the example of voting rights to further address how some people, particularly African Americans, are not always valued in society despite having the same rights as their fellow citizens.
"It's the idea of 'Well, our humanity still isn't being seen, despite the fact that we've gained this,'" Dr. Williams said. "As a call for resistance [and] social justice, rights are at the bottom level and there are more things to be fought for and struggled against so Africana people, in particular, can be seen."
2. Resistance comes in all forms, big and small. Dr. Sullivan explained how we can still fight the system while being a part of it in small, accessible ways.
"A lot of the work is driving your neighbor to a doctor's appointment because you have a car and they don't," Dr. Sullivan said. "That's work that's breaking the system that says everyone needs to have their own car and everyone needs to have their own resources."
Dr. Sullivan also explained how white people, in particular, can assist people of color on the front lines fighting for change.
"You don't need to be at the meetings for Black Lives Matter, but you can drop off water and sandwiches [to] sustain the people who are doing the work," Dr. Sullivan said. "Revolutionary work is to provide those resources [and] get the care there, not being the one who has to be at the table necessarily."
1. Know what it is that you're fighting for. When looking back on histories of resistance and revolution, Dr. Dilts reminded us of the importance of knowing exactly what our goals are when fighting for social justice today.
"Oftentimes, I don't think it's clear to us what we're trying to do unless we take a step back to think that through," Dr. Dilts said. "Are you trying to alleviate a very specific suffering that you can identify in a community? Are you trying to respond to harm in a systematic way? Are you trying to get free?"
Dr. Dilts also quoted Critical Resistance, a California-based prison abolitionist organization.
"Ask yourself, what happens if you win?" Dr. Dilts asked. "What if you actually get the thing you're asking for? Will you be fighting against it in five years?"
This is the opinion of Raven Yamamoto, a sophomore journalism major from Kahului, HI. Tweet comments to @LALoyolan or email comments to email@example.com.