Friars Leader Janaya Khan on #blacklivesmatter

October 06, 2016

Janaya Khan

The activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto spoke about their vision for the anti-racism movement

Janaya Khan, activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, spoke about their work and vision for the anti-racism movement as part of the Friars Leaders series. They described the power of grassroots activism for change and the application of lessons from the global struggle for justice to current issues in the United States.

Khan spoke of their recent involvement in demonstrations in Charlotte and Los Angeles, describing their interactions with police with their fellow protesters. They connected these experiences with protests in their native Toronto, Palestine and across the world, drawing on wisdom from Angela Davis, James Baldwin and other thought leaders to put these grassroots actions in the context of the overall movement for Black liberation and social justice.

They powerfully urged students to ensure that their lives are spent ensuring that future generations do not have to fight the same struggles that are happening now. They then turned the presentation over to three Simmons students, who continued the theme of global justice by presenting their own experiences of racism in the United States and abroad. 

Lauren Morgan ‘20 compared the visibility of race in Ghana to the structures of privilege and the representation of race in American popular culture. Jasmine Casímiro Jean ‘19 explained the aftermath of disaster relief services in Haiti which failed to address core infrastructure problems. Cambridge native Zuri Ball ‘19 described her frustrations with managing the normal stresses of being a college student while worrying about her family’s safety and fighting for the visibility and safety of Black people at Simmons and in the community.

Khan closed the program by answering questions and providing practical tips for students to fight for justice constantly, even in their classrooms and personal interactions, saying, “It would be too easy for us to say the fight for freedom is for remarkable people. When we fight for freedom, when we fight for justice, we become remarkable.”

Anita Diamant

2016/2017 Friars Leaders

This year's leaders include Janaya Khan, Joyce Kulhawik and Anita Diamant.