By Cavan Kharrazian, National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Recent events in the United States have initiated a serious national dialogue over issues once thought of as solved in America-namely racial prejudice and its effect on American society. The tragedies and controversies that have unfolded in the last few months have incited large scale demands to address the hidden face of racism in America: the unwarranted, many say racially motivated, murder of Trayvon Martin by community watch coordinator George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida; the overt hate crime which led to the murder of Iraqi Muslim mother Shaima Alwadi in San Diego; and the NYPD's intrusive implementation of surveillance and informant networks amongst Muslim communities and Muslim university students in the city.
Undoubtedly, minority groups have reason to be weary over their image in American society, and how they may be exposed to possible attacks. With the current climate on talks of war with Iran at an all time high, Iranian-Americans are beginning to worry over the possibility of pro-war attitudes manifesting anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States akin to that seen during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
Groups of pro-active Iranian-American students, working through Iranian Alliances Across Border's (IAAB) Campus Action Network (I-CAN), are initiating a campaign to raise understanding and appreciation of Persian culture while facilitating cross-cultural and multi-faith dialogues. Over 20 universities will be hosting I-CAN initiative, Iran Awareness Month: No Hate, which will also include measures to raise concern over not only rising anti-Iranian sentiment, but also demanding justice for Trayvon, Shaima, and Muslim communities in New York City. Participants will mail photos of themselves wearing hoodies and hijabs to the Sanford Police Department and the NYPD to show solidarity for the recent victims of racial bigotry.
This campaign is unique to other initiatives on universities campuses dealing with Trayvon and Shaima tragedies in that it takes these events alongside their own specific cultural context to promote a broader unity and dialogue amongst all demographics. Hopefully the success of Iran Awareness Month will inspire a model other cultural groups can utilize to combat ignorance surrounding their own situation while in tandem with a wider awareness movement that helps to develop an informed and tolerant America for all.
If you or your university are interested in participating in IAAB's Iran Awareness Month: No Hate, please email email@example.com for more information.
... Payvand News - 04/14/12 ... --