No Justice, No Peace
Westminster students help bring the Black Lives Matter Movement ideology to Westminster
by Liz Dobbins (’21)
“No justice, no peace.” ASW vice president and justice studies major Daud Mumin (’21) often channels this protest chant in his commitment to fight for the liberation of generations of Black individuals and suppressed communities as part of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. His participation in the movement is also personal: he’s fighting to build a better world for his siblings. “This movement is for my younger brother and sister,” Daud says. “To let them live in a world that was better than mine.”
Daud’s commitment stems from the moment he says he lost his own childhood. At only 13 years old, Daud lost his friend to gun violence—an experience many young Black Americans have lived through. “It was something that left me hopeless and full of anger,” he says. “It left me feeling tired from not being able to be a kid.”
Aching for a sense of community, Daud began his participation in the BLM movement only a few years after it was founded in response to the killing of Trayvon Martin by a white police officer. “I felt like I found a home,” Daud recalls. “I finally found a place that I could feel comfortable, safe, and heard.” Since his discovery, Daud has organized protests, rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, lobbying, and various multifaceted approaches to liberation. “Black Lives Matter taught me that I’m a fighter for my community,” he says.
The BLM movement has stretched farther than the United States. ASW president, Obaid Barakzai (’21), an Honors student and international-political-economy custom major from Kabul, Afghanistan, has seen the movement’s breadth first-hand. “I first heard about the BLM movement through the Afghan national radio on a bus heading home from school. But when I came to the States, I got to know more about the movement,” Obaid says. “Black Lives Matter is about becoming visible to the rest of the world. As a Muslim and a Brown person of color—someone who is not Black but carries many marginalized identities—I use the BLM platform as a way to become more visible and educate other people on our rights.”
Daud and Obaid utilize their ASW roles to raise awareness and engage the Westminster community in the fight for justice. From community talks with President Bethami Dobkin to ASW and Chill, they have helped create a space for students of color to be heard. “You need to be creating a safe community where it is possible to have unifying conversations that humanize our struggles and where students are heard and seen,” Obaid says.
Together, Obaid and Daud work towards opening access to student government positions. “A commitment to representation is a commitment to understanding why we aren’t represented in the first place,” Daud says. “We want to put processes, systems, and procedures in place to allow people to come to these tables.”
Thus far, opening access to student government has included changing the recruitment process, specifically reaching out to students of color; working with the Office of Global Peace and Spirituality to create a culture centered around diverse individuals; and participating in diversity, equity, and inclusion committees.
Student-led initiatives like these—in conjunction with Westminster’s commitment to become an anti-racist institution—have solidified efforts and united our community with movements like Black Lives Matter. “The fact that a white institution like Westminster is willing to put its focus and energy in furthering diversity and inclusion efforts tells so much about how far we have come,” Obaid says. “But we still have a lot of work to do.”
To create equality across campus, Salt Lake, and the US, Obaid and Daud urge Westminster community members to get involved: be an ally, use our voices, and fight for liberation and equality. “The fight has evolved to now where being silent is not an option,” Daud says. “Not picking a side is no longer an option. To be complicit or complacent in violence is no longer acceptable.”
About the Westminster Review
The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.