On Monday evening, Binghamton University College Progressives held a workshop on solidarity to discuss and exemplify how one can stand with others to promote activism and call out oppression.
About 40 students gathered in the Mandela Room to discuss solidarity between groups to make the University a safer, more inclusive place. Karla Marte, secretary of College Progressives and an undeclared freshman, said that she hoped the event inspired students to mobilize and break down systematic oppression that exists in Binghamton and nationwide.
“People are legitimately unsafe, and we need to show people how they can really get involved in the community to really make an impact,” Marte said. “We need to uplift the voices of the marginalized people so we can better stand in solidarity with them.”
Farihah Akhtar, president of College Progressive and a junior double-majoring in sociology and political science, also brought up the recent incident of racial harassment directed at BU X-Fact’r Step Team, who had met with University administration earlier that day. Akhtar said that the club stands in solidarity with X-Fact’r and called on those present to attend the meeting with the Binghamton Police Department on Tuesday.
“This is just one incident, and it’s systemic of how people of color are treated in Broome County jails and how [they] are policed in the city,” Akhtar said.
The event was cosponsored by various multicultural and activist organizations on campus, including the Black Student Union, Democracy Matters, the Latin American Student Union, Powerful United Ladies Striving to Elevate, Rainbow Pride Union, SHADES, the Thurgood Marshall Pre-Law Society, the Student Association vice president for multicultural affairs office, the women’s, gender and sexuality studies department and the Women’s Student Union (WSU).
Members of the club aimed to make the workshop accessible to all attendees by defining the fundamental concepts like solidarity, oppression and systems of exploitation, and said that it is everyone’s duty to recognize their privilege and use it make a positive impact. According to them, those who benefit from privilege can utilize this to create safe spaces for those who are unsafe.
College Progressives also hosted a panel of student activists and community leaders that discussed what solidarity looks like in practice and the struggles of different marginalized groups. The panelists were Toivo Asheeke, a founding member of the Broome County Unity Project and fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in sociology; Winter Clark, the vice president of College Progressives and a junior in the individualized major program; Adina Matos, a member of multiple activist organizations and a first-year graduate student studying public administration; Jessica Dunn, president of WSU and a senior triple-majoring in sociology, Africana studies and Latin American and Caribbean studies; and Mone’t Schultz, vice president of the BSU and a junior majoring in sociology.
While standing in solidarity may be hard under criticism, Asheeke said that it is a necessary risk activists must take in order to be effective allies.
“You must be open to the critique, be willing to be made uncomfortable,” Asheeke said. “It’s not a good feeling, but if you’re about this work, you’re going to do whatever it takes, even if it means being flamed in the moment, or a bunch of moments, to be able to take better care of others.”
Schultz later said that the event built a foundation for future alignment between campus organizations so that they can stand together and spread awareness about injustices made against marginalized populations.
“I think it’s very important that people have some sort of framework from which they can work through the oppressive and exploitive structures that exist in society,” Schultz said. “If there’s 10 people in a room and those 10 people tell 10 other people, then that’s 100 people right there.”