On April 4, 2017, over 150 people attended A Time to Break Silence: Resisting Islamophobia in the Trump Era, a symposium that brought together USF students, faculty, and staff along with members from the community. More than 90 USF students attended. The event was inspired by the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” The interactive workshops connected the rise of Islamophobia with the increase in other forms of hate and discrimination against marginalized communities. This symposium was created and funded through the Interdisciplinary Action Grant sponsored by CRASE.
To start the event, Dr. Clarence Jones, inaugural Diversity Scholar Visiting Professor, connected Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words to current sociopolitical and cultural issues, especially as they relate to Islamophobia. During the workshops and panels, speakers drew connections between Islamophobia and undocumented students, Anti-Semitism, and Anti-Black Racism. Dr. Suzanne Barakat discussed her personal experience and the tragedy of Islamophobia in her keynote speech. Performances from comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh, spoken word artist Mohammed Bilal, Diana Kalaji, and the Lyricist Lounge closed the event.