Alternative Spring Break 2013-2014 - "Till the Winds of Freedom Blow": Working towards rights, justice, and liberation through the lens of black, arab, and queer resistance

Basic Information
Application Process: 
Alternative Spring Break 2013-2014
Trip Name: 
"Till the Winds of Freedom Blow": Working towards rights, justice, and liberation through the lens of black, arab, and queer resistance
Trip Location: 
Bay Area, CA
Air Travel Trip: 
No
Number of Participants: 
12
Trip Description: 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” - Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

 

Many of us have a root social issue (or two--or three) that for whatever reason pulls at our hearts and preoccupies our minds. Our concern may be based in our personal experiences with any number of things to racism and sexism, class inequality and sexual identity--or it may be based in our empathy for the suffering of people on the other side of the city or the world. Yet with such large structures confronting us, we may feel powerless to respond, to resist, to recreate the world. And as power concedes nothing without a demand, it is up to us to figure out what demands we make and how best to make them. 

 

With studying black, arab and queer organizing in the Bay Area as case studies, we aim to to examine the different methods of affecting social change with the goal of helping participants finetune what works best for them.  In this trip, we will explore important questions in understanding how systems of oppression function: what is the distinction between equality and justice; human rights and liberation? Should we be idealistic or pragmatic in our activist approaches? What is “intersectionality” and how do we take it into account? What’s more effective; working bottom up or top down? We will spend time learning strategies and tools from various organization and individuals committed to social change--from civil rights groups, community farms and grassroots organizers to politicians, lobbyists and artists/media makers. Potential site visits include East Palo Alto, Oakland, Berkeley and Stockton, in addition to San Francisco. 

 

Though the primary lens for this trip comes through the leaders’ intellectual and experiential understanding of black, arab and queer liberation, we aim to create a space that celebrates the organic intellectual/organizer in all of us--learning from knowledge we all hold from our own experiences and building a course around the interests of all participants. Neither an understanding of any or all of these issues is required—just a commitment to learning and actualizing change. 

Trip Leaders
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Kristian Bailey

Peace y’all, I’m Kristian ‘with a K’ beginning my final year at Stanford. My development as a justice-oriented person emerged around three almost simultaneous events: my disbelief at the murder of Trayvon Martin, my Stanford Daily coverage of the arrest and detainment of a young Stanford activist in Palestine, and my participation in an Alternative Spring Break trip with Samar. I at once learned about systemic inequality at home and abroad and about the power of the pen to expose those grievances towards some higher goal of justice. The frame of structural inequality helped me better understand my experiences as a black and queer male--not as an isolated or random incidents of discomfort, but as the effects of larger power relations that govern our world.  The time since then has seemed to fly by. In the span of two years, I have spent a summer learning about inequities facing the Native American community, traveled to Cape Town and seen how the legacies of apartheid continue to live on, spent ten days in Mexico learning about the relationship between authentic journalism and social movements, and lived in Detroit for seven weeks witnessing firsthand the power of visionary grassroots organizing before finishing up the summer with five weeks in Palestine to learn about life under military occupation firsthand. The more I see, the more I know and the more I know the more I understand how intrinsically so many of the justice issues we care about are interwoven in a network of mutuality, in a single garment of destiny--to paraphrase Dr. King. ASB played a pivotal role in what I’ve done with my time as an undergrad and so I’m looking forward to paying that back all that I’ve gained and sharing my final spring break at Stanford with you!

Samar Alqatari

Hi everyone! I’m Samar, a senior in mechanical engineering but a humanist at heart. I hail from the far away lands of Saudi Arabia, where my experiences growing up shaped my outlook on life and my understanding of freedom and oppression--both individual and collective. One of the most important contributions to my perspective came when I learned about the Palestinian “issue” during my early years in high school. Being exposed to critical historians and theorists, public philosophers and other intellectual perspectives on Palestine opened my eyes to a knowledge world of power and politics.So upon my arrival to Stanford, I planned to express my feelings of disbelief and distraught regarding what was happening in a place so close to home - injustice that we were all complicit in - through activism. Soon enough, late night conversations and challenging intellectual questions made me see layers of complexity and shades of gray, and positioned Palestine within larger systems of dominance. In Palestine, I recognized parallels to the oppression of many other groups around the world and their movements for justice (black and queer liberation to name two). I became confronted with the necessity for ‘intersectionality,’ (something we’ll be discussing often) in movements for justice. While maintaining solidarity with other issues on campus, I focused my time and action on one cause (justice for Palestinians), and I think it’s safe to say I’ve tried it all: dialogue, negotiation, government, mass mobilization, top-down; bottom-up, etc. The more I learn and live, the more I contemplate methods of resistance and the means of dismantling structures of oppression. I hope that my background combined with Kristian’s, which come from intellectual pursuits as well as lived experiences, will inform our discussions in class and our trip, and create a driving, stimulating, and open space for all of us to grow and evolve as change-makers. Very excited to meet fellow comrades in justice! Looking forward to reading your applications!