Yasaman Hakami: Bullying is not welcome in Senate race
Hate can't stop a movement of love
Intersectional advocacy is a term that sparked the interest in an 18-year-old Iranian-American woman, a freshman at American University double majoring in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies, to run for Student Government’s senator-at-large position.
This person would be me, Yasaman Hakami.
Frequently, when we speak of advocacy and activism, we neglect marginalized groups and focus nearly all of our attention on the hegemonic community on campus. With my campaign, I’ve drawn attention to the lack of intersectionality within our conversations. When we speak of advocating for issues such as improving campus security, healing racial tensions, environmental justice, worker rights, mental health and disability advocacy, financial affordability or campus climate, we fail to note that each of these causes intertwine with the establishment. Our campus community is comprised of numerous passions, interests and beliefs. Picking and choosing our fights or advocating for a dominant group’s rights over others for the purpose of political expediency is a major disservice to our community. I believe that to make AU a school that we can all be proud of, we need to start intersectionally representing the rights and needs of all our community members.
I got into this race with a movement in mind. Our campaign is fighting diligently, tirelessly and deliberately to achieve this vision for AU. Last Sunday afternoon, we took part in a town hall event set up by fellow senatorial candidates. I did not hold my passion back. I spoke extensively about how I wanted to achieve an AU that is a home for all its members stating, “racial equality is not a partisan issue, it is a human rights necessity.” This statement angered those who are okay with the status quo of eliminating the discussion of race and social justice from everyday conversation at AU. It rose to a level of hatred that brought me to tears in the middle of the town hall. As I looked out the window, I saw signs with “Yasmin is a Fascist” written on them, followed by comments on Facebook (now deleted) stating, “Yasmin is disingenuous and insincere in her advocacy.” I went to my room to later see our campaign’s signs and posters torn and crumbled on the ground. I lost it at this point. Distraught, I went into my room, called my mom and cried until I felt ready enough to address the issue online. I was most of all determined to show those who wanted to hurt me that I was strong in spite of their bullying. Those who wanted to silence and torment our movement have absolutely no idea which nasty woman they were messing with.
I began this campaign with the idea and notion that this is beyond just a single person candidacy. The importance is not on me succeeding nor is the goal is just to win. The goal is to impact the campus at large, to make SG more proactive at advocating for all of its members and to make real, tangible and intersectional difference. The goal is to bring effective and necessary policy (i.e. expanding Blue Light stations on campus, extending guidance counseling emergency drop-in hours, and making Empower AU a semester -- if not yearlong -- program for all freshman) to show our campus community that student government is an advocate for everyone and not just a few.
Therefore, I conclude with a message to those who think it is funny to mock someone fighting for a better AU: You’re not welcome here. We decry hate. We denounce bigotry. And, we will never accept any form of bullying. This has always been about bringing real progressive change for everyone at AU, especially marginalized communities who need an advocate now more than ever.
Let our resolve be a message to others who want to join in the fight, never back down and always do what is right because together we are stronger than any and all hate.
Yasaman Hakami is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs.