Campus Dialogue on Race

Islam and Afghanistan will be a major focus of the 10th annual Campus Dialogue on Race, a nine-day event that features noted speakers, panels and workshops devoted to the topic of racial understanding.

This year’s dialogue, which kicks off Thursday and runs through Nov. 9, features a coup for HSU: a pre-screening of the much-anticipated Hollywood film “The Kite Runner.” The movie, which depicts an Afghani immigrant’s efforts to rescue a boy from war-torn Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover in the 1990s, will air Nov. 6 at the Minor Theater.
A special pre-release screening of the film “The Kite Runner” will be featured as part of Humboldt State’s Campus Dialogue on Race. The movie will be shown Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Minor Theater.

The best-selling book of the same name will play a prominent role in this year’s event. English and literature classes at Humboldt State and College of the Redwoods have chosen the novel as a featured text for discussion this academic year, and organizers hope the book and film, along with other performances and lectures, will act as a springboard for students and the community to increase their understanding of Muslim life.

“We are looking at the current climate in Afghanistan, the history, ethnicity, politics, war, gender and class, as well as Islam in America,” says Jyoti Rawal, interim co-director of diversity programming for the university and an architect of the campus dialogue.

Highlights include keynote addresses by Amina Wadud, an Islamic feminist and scholar, on Nov. 1; and Faisal Alam, a queer Muslim activist, on Nov. 5. Jacqueline Featherston, an author, filmmaker and co-founder of the Institute for MultiRacial Justice, will deliver the closing keynote on Nov. 9.

The performing arts, film, poetry and plays will be featured prominently. The Black Student Union will stage a performance of the play “The Colored Museum,” and local television station KEET, channel 13, will air the documentary “A Woman Among Warlords,” about a woman running for a seat in Afghanistan’s parliament. There will also be a performance of “Climbing Poetree,” a series of poems about environmental and social justice, sexuality and civil rights. Director Spike Lee’s four-part documentary “When the Levees Broke,” about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, will be shown as well.

Dr. Amina Wadud, top, Faisal Alam and Jacqueline Featherston, bottom, will be the keynote speakers for the Campus Dialogue on Race, which begins Thursday, Nov. 1.

The bulk of the campus dialogue’s calendar includes daily sessions by faculty, staff and students on topics ranging from the trauma suffered by local American Indian tribes at the hands of settlers to homosexuality in the developing world to a discussion on white privilege. Community organizations such as the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission are also involved.

“There is so much going on during the nine days,” Rawal says. “Part of why this is such a huge deal on our campus is because diversity and social justice have been put on the table for the past four or five years as issues that we really want to work on.”

Why is this important? “We aren’t a diverse community, so a student’s academic experience tends to be limited,” Rawal says. “The important thing about this event is that it brings knowledge about social justice and race to our students who perhaps are not getting that in their daily lives compared to, say, a student at San Francisco State.”

To function in a globalized economy and world where races and nationalities increasingly intermingle, students must gain an awareness of these issues, Rawal says. “Our students will not be able to function in the workplace without having exposure to different ideas and ways of living. The campus dialogue is a time when everybody can come together for nine days and intensively engage in discussion.”

For :schedule information”:www.humboldt.edu/~dialogue.