One week after President Donald Trump issued an executive order that temporarily banned most immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, several cultural organizations at Ohio State have come together to sponsor a “blackout” on Friday as a form of protest.
Ten student organizations, including the Somali Students’ Association, the Arab Student Union and the African Youth League, have combined forces to mobilize students across campus. They are asking the OSU community to wear all black all day on Friday to stand up against the new policies.
“The objective of this blackout is to create unity and solidarity amongst our campus community in light of actions that are going on around us,” said Suad Osman, president of the Somali Students’ Association and a third-year in neuroscience, in an email. “We wanted to create an act that would not entice feelings of animosity, but one that would show a simple act of solidarity that anyone is able to partake in. It takes very little effort to put on a black shirt, but the meaning will have no bounds.”
Somalia is one of the countries affected by the ban, which has barred most citizens of the seven countries from traveling to the U.S. for 90 days, indefinitely banned the entry of Syrian refugees into the U.S. and suspended the U.S. refugee-intake program as a whole for 120 days.
Grace Azenabor, head of public relations for the African Youth League and a third-year in marketing and economics, said even before the election, Islamophobia and the meaning of democracy were a main discussion point among minorities.
After the immigration order was announced on Friday, a weekend of protests followed, both in Columbus and around the country. Azenabor said that different African, Arab and Muslim student organizations on campus wanted to work together to plan the campus-wide blackout.
“We stand for something stronger than hate and that we stand for what this is supposed to be about. This is supposed to be about freedom, acceptance and equality,” she said. “We felt that because of this administration, that wouldn’t be exhibited or practiced at all … by showing our community through this blackout we’ll be able to show to campus, and to a greater community as well, that this ban is not something that we’re for, that this regime is not something that we’re for, and that we aren’t going to stay quiet and let this happen without any resistance.”
Leen Amin, president of the Arab Student Union and a fourth-year in international studies and world politics, said these types of events are important to help advocate for those who have been affected by the ban, and also to educate students who are unaware of these issues and their effects on the community.
At least 94 OSU students and visiting scholars are affected by the ban, according to OSU.
“We hope that it’ll maybe teach them that people coming from these countries are just innocent human beings who are fleeing war and terror and just want a better life in the United States,” Amin said. “That’s what this country was founded on, it was founded by immigrants for immigrants as a safe haven from persecution, and so hopefully it’ll raise awareness and give people the courage to protest more actively against this executive order.”