In the first of a series of webinars, Who is Hussain hosted a conversation with leaders at the forefront of social movements in North America. Here are some lessons we learnt.
This past summer, the issue of racial inequality demanded our attention on the worldwide stage. It was a time of collective learning and grassroots mobilization that we have not seen for a long time. People, not only in spite of, but because of the pandemic and its disproportionate effect on the health, education, and economic stability of many, took to the streets by the millions. While that moment in time was remarkable in its own right, it is more important to recognize the historical struggle it sprung from, and the vital movement it continues to be.
In times like these, we can look to social champions for perspective and inspiration. In the first of a series of webinars, Who is Hussain hosted a conversation with leaders at the forefront of social movements in North America. The panel featured four outstanding individuals:
Sandy Hudson, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement in Canada, who commits herself to the abolitionist struggle for black liberation through her work as a speaker, educator, and organizer.
Carolyn Casey, the founder and Executive Director of Project 351, an organization dedicated to uplifting and equipping young leaders across the state of Massachusetts with the skills they need to create and lead change in their own communities.
Rana Abdelhamid, a grassroots community organizer. She is the founder of Malikah, a global network of women leaders who support one another through self-defence, healing justice, community organizing and financial literacy and work together to realize a more inclusive, safe, and just world for all.
Bob Zellner, a civil rights hero who has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to the pursuit of justice by organizing in the South of the United States. The son and grandson of Ku Klux Klan members, Bob bravely fought to achieve the second emancipation. He organized freedom rides and served as the first white field secretary for the SNCC. Now, he mentors young leaders and continues to fuel the fire for justice in subsequent generations.
The panellists spoke on the challenge of building sustainable and meaningful movements and taught us about how they cultivate hope even in the most troubling of circumstances.
Here are some of the lessons we can learn from the discussion:
- Begin in gratitude. Remember those who came before you. This can take on the form of acknowledging the Indigenous people whose land we reside on or recognizing the hard work our ancestors did for us to benefit from the time and place we find ourselves in today.
- Imagine what you want the world to look like. Ask yourself, and then those around you: What does the world sound like/taste like/smell like/feel like/taste like/look like when all of our communities are safe and empowered? Start from the vantage point of possibility. It is conviction in this vision that breeds hope.
- Following tragedy, we are faced with a choice. We can act on bitterness and anger or love and unity. At its best, a community’s response is a potent form of healing, and love is the action word at the very centre of this mission.
- From the 12 and 13-year-old ambassadors of Project 351 to the women trained in self-defence and healing justice as part of Malikah, investing in people and recognizing their potential makes for limitless impact.
- Finding hope can be difficult, especially when we are burdened by racial struggle and a global pandemic simultaneously. If we are ever feeling isolated, we need to root ourselves in community. Hope comes from connection with other people.
- The work of dismantling violent systems also requires us to ensure the most vulnerable of us can still survive within them in the meantime. It is here that mutual aid has the power to provide safety and security.
- Look for opportunities to contribute to and support networks that already exist, especially those that are community-based rather than reliant on larger and often violent structures.
- When it seems daunting to consider social change a marathon, almost any movement can also be seen as a series of sprints. At this moment, millions of people are mobilizing around the world to confront racism. A bout of progress is imminent. And we can be a part of it.
- Freedom is a constant struggle. The civil rights movement was neither the beginning nor the end of inequality. But it teaches us that people united in common purpose are capable of transforming thought and policy.
- Hussain’s legacy of hope in the face of injustice mirrors and informs the long and universal struggle towards a more just and equitable world, a vision Bob, Sandy, Carolyn, Rana, and Who is Hussain volunteers all around the world have committed themselves to realize today.
You can watch the full webinar here: