“A lot of times as college students we feel as though there isn’t much we can do to give back, but UMR is a real example of college students that made a change,” said junior neurobiology and physiology major Mahwish Askari.

Askari is also president of the United Muslim Relief’s chapter at the University of Maryland.

At an event hosted by the United Muslim Relief at the Stamp Student Union, Askari and several other attendees addressed a plethora of social tensions occurring around the world.

One hundred percent of the proceeds made at the event will be donated toward refugee relief, said United Muslim Relief advocacy coordinator and junior government and politics major Saarah Javed.

“Our motto ‘better together’ bears a testament to our belief that we must unite our resources and expertise to have a greater impact,” said Askari. “Together we can make a difference.”

Although it may be a noble cause to donate time, money or energy to charities, it is vital to “identify and unite with people advocating for different issues of social justice,” said sophomore electrical engineering major Abe Darwish.

Darwish stated that people often fail to empathize or identify with victims of tragedies, if they do not personally identify with a particular tragedy.

“As a board we are inspired to host this event because we realize there are so many untold stories out there,” said Askari. “A lot of times many issues go unheard of because of lack of media coverage, but we want to bring these issues to life and discuss how we can make a difference, because indifference in itself is an issue and information is power. “

Naim Owens, a 4th year sophomore and business major from PG County Community college, performing his song We're Human Too." (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Naim Owens, a 4th year sophomore and business major from PG County Community college, performing his song We’re Human Too.” (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

The various acts ranged mainly between spoken-word, musical performances and presentations.

In her poem, “Say Her Name,” freshman business major Sadiyah Bashir highlights black women’s inability to fully escape sexism. Snapping ensued and echoed throughout the Colony Ballroom as Bashir voiced “black women are still today our own species.”

Bashir stated that sexism transcends far past the idea of men versus women. Instead, many women are vulnerable to falling victim to stereotypes.

“One thing that I see a lot, especially with us [women] in a Muslim community is stereotypes,” said Bashir. “I receive the stereotypes of being the loud, angry black girl who’s always speaking about something.”

It’s important to acknowledge and dismantle stereotypes, because a single or even a group of people do not characterize the whole population,  Bashir said. 

Bashir’s was inspired and felt empowered to participate in this program because there are so many people who don’t have a voice, she said.

This idea of stereotypes appeared from act to act.

In his poem, “We Must Be Free” senior sociology major Rhys Hall emphasized that one can’t judge a whole population based on the actions of just one.

“I thank the officers for their sacrifice,” said Hall. “My uncle was a policeman, as was his wife. I would never dare to lump the whole people together for the misgivings of one. But I don’t know if the same thing will be said about my son.”

Hall also spoke on the social issue of gun violence in his poem, “Trigger.” He opened his poem with the phrase, “they ask me why I drop when I hear balloons pop.”

The line captures the mental and emotional trauma he has experienced with gun violence, Hall said.

“The inspiration for that piece came when I was at a birthday party when a friend of mine’s balloon popped and I shook,” said Hall. “I lost a former football teammate and friend of mine three weeks ago due to gun violence right outside of my old house.”

Hall stressed that people need to search for alternatives to gun violence, because so many youth die from what could have been avoidable death.

Naim Owens, a sophomore business major, also alluded to the world’s abundance of violence in his song, “We’re Human Too.” Owens song was written about the Chapel Hill shooting and states that many times nations are often “one bullet away from a hashtag.”

“Each of us in here have a voice and that does not have to be used with your vocal chords. Through your writing, through your teaching, through your structure, through your friendships, you have the ability to talk,” said Hall.

However, those on stage were there to possibly inspire and give “a voice to those without a mic,” said sophomore math major Sarah Eshera. The performers aimed at “restoring hope in causes that we feel strongly about but may have forgotten or given up on.”

Featured Photo Credit: Freshman individual studies of individualization, Sana Shah performing excerpts from Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and The Scripts’ “Super Heroes.” Sana wanted “to create a shared emotional experience” with the audience before talking about the importance of empathy. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Joel Valley is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at joel.valley@gmail.com.

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