DEARBORN – On Jan. 11 and 12, organizers, activists and community leaders gathered at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center to participate in the first ever “Road to Equal Justice” conference in Dearborn.
Organized by Dearborn community members, for Dearborn, the conference featured workshop sessions and a panel discussion focused on promoting social justice in the 21st century.
The Road to Equal Justice series, organized by PeaceTech Lab, provides free media, data and technology training to organizations working on social and racial justice in the U.S. These workshops are part of a 16-city tour.
Dearborn is home to one of the largest Arab American communities in the U.S. and organizers were aware of its rich history of social justice activism.
Local organizer Machhadie Assi (Micho) helped bring the series to Dearborn and wanted to give attendees an opportunity to explore what social justice look like in Dearborn.
This two-day event was meant to educate attendees on strategically utilizing data, statistics and technology to empower communities with the necessary skills to fight prejudice, organize effectively and uplift one another.
Workshop, panelists and speakers spoke about issues faced by Arabs and Muslims. Among the workshops topics hosted were The Data of Democracy: Modern Voter Contact Strategies for Social Change; Countering and Dismantling Islamophobia; Data Driven Election Equity; World of Disability Online; Sports X Philanthropy X Social Justice; Productivity Strategies for Highly Effective Multi-dimensional Individuals, Social Media Skills for Social Justice Non-Profits.
The event also highlighted the diversity of experiences within the Arab American community. For example, a question posed by the organizers was how systemic racism can differently impact the Lebanese American and Yemeni American community in Dearborn.
The panel discussion was titled: “Enhancing American Democracy and Pushing for Social Justice Change in the Era of Social Media, Data and Technology.”
Panelists were Prof. Khaled Beydoun, author and law professor; Prof. Nadeem Saddiqi, director of data strategy at Wayne Metro; Alexandria Hughes, behavior therapist and community activist, and New American Leaders President Ghida Dagher. Assi moderated the panel along with newly elected Dearborn City Councilman Kamal Alsawafy.
Selected for their expertise and experience, the panelists provide the unique perspective familiar to advocates who are of minority backgrounds. Assi and her team of young activists collaborated with leaders and organizers from a diverse range of professional and demographic backgrounds. Around 125 people attended the event.