Within the first couple of weeks of his inauguration, Trump signed multiple executive orders targeting the Muslim (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States---"Muslim ban"), American Indian/Native American + Black (Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers and Task Force---"blue lives matter" on Crime Reduction and Public Safety---"law and order"), Mexicans (Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements---"the wall"), and undocumented (Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States---withholding federal money from "sanctuary cities") communities. Later, as part of continued assaults on marginalized communities, he banned transgender people from the U.S. military, aggressively detained undocumented activists, moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during the nakba, nominated Kavaugh for the Supreme Court, and doubled down on a family separation policy at the Southern border. Trump's administration attempted to rollback wins achieved by Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Dreamers, women, trans people, refugees and Palestinians. And yet, there was no mass mobilization or movement that emerged in response to the inauguration moment and other coalescing consecutive moments thereafter. This leads us to ask: Is it possible that the Right, especially the Far Right, sees us more in unison than the Left actually is? During the first weekend of the Muslim ban, thousands of protesters rushed to their local airports and chanted "no ban. no wall" while some added "no raids."
One wonders why, when other executive orders that aimed to strengthen federal and law enforcement powers and over-reach, those chants did not link "no prions" and "no cops" to calls for justice against the Trump administration? How can from seeing the atomized other's struggle as a bounded, separate category, to a quilted, interwoven movement towards collective liberation? We have long debated the usefulness of categories such as solidarity, ally, accomplice, etc. What if we saw ourselves, as Dr. Alhassen argues, as each other's engaged wit/h/ness---an active witness who demonstrates "with-ness" through testifying? In this talk, Alhassen will deconstruct her concept of "engaged wit/h/ness" (which emerged from her research on Afro-Arab "solidarity politics" and Black-Palestine transnational studies) and how student organizers can apply it and use it towards campus-wide and community connected movement work. Alhassen contends that our primary should be locate and analyze interlocking of systems ("no ban. no walls. no prisons. no cops") and not merely to assume politically expedient identities to (the ban and wall racialized as "brown immigrant" issues) to get free.