The Human Rights Board wrapped up their annual Human Rights Week event with a showcase of live performances entitled, “[under]Underrepresented,” last night at the MultiCultural Center Theater.
The open mic night gave UCSB students from marginalized communities the opportunity to perform through dance, singing or perform spoken word. Taking place from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., “[under]Underrepresented” featured performers advocating a variety of human rights issues, including women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and college students’ rights, in an effort to express and celebrate the diversity of voices on campus.
Third-year political science and feminist studies major Anisha Ahuja, who was M.C. at the event, said the event opened the way for members of oppressed communities to share their voice. She said there are specific communities, within already-marginalized groups, whose rights and interests are oftentimes by larger minority group they are included in.
“In terms of the current feminist movement, it definitely ignores people of color, transfolks,” Ahuja said.
Therefore, she said, the main idea for the open mic night, as well as the entire Human Rights Week, is to recognize all the invisible and ignored organizations. In doing so, Ahuja said many minority groups strive to unite with others so a larger united activist movement can push forward.
“A lot of issues that we face are intersectional, so our struggles for liberation are all connected to other folks from other communities,” she said.
Carly McMaster, fourth-year global studies major and events coordinator for Human Rights Board, said the event focused on building a community and bond between marginalized groups who may not otherwise unite.
“The great part about this week is focusing on coalition-building because I think the way to get our voices heard is by not standing alone … but by finding the commonalities, different oppressions and marginalization, and coming together to help each other out,” McMaster said.
Like Ahuja, McMaster said no matter how many subcategories of human rights there are, all “come together at a certain point.” For this reason, she said students should question the extent of what they learn inside the classroom.
“It’s really important, here at UCSB, that we focus on what we can learn outside the classroom because inside the classroom, we’re taught a lot of the same things — the same hegemonic structures, like whiteness and male-dominated society.”
With the week’s events all being student-run and student-funded, McMaster said the success of HRB events this past week left her with a “really big realization” of “how much we can accomplish, as students here, and how much we can get done.”
According to Amanda Manalo, third-year political science major and vice-chair of the Human Rights Board, students need to be active in order to be heard by the community. She said the theme of this year’s week-long event welcomed in groups who may otherwise be left out.
“[under]Underrepresented, in a general sense, is being a part of different institutions and not really being acknowledged or accepted,” Manalo said. “I think it’s important that people who are underrepresented stand their ground. It’s important for people to acknowledge their existence.”
Manalo said the event brought an extra dimension of depth and diversity, one which she hoped would inspire attendees to be more proactive in pushing for their own specific rights.
“A lot of people, when they think of human rights, think of feminism and erasing racism and classism, but ‘[under]Underrepresented’ brought to light different issues within broader issues [that] people generally think of,” Manalo said. “By doing that, we hope people can really be interested to be active in their own struggles and become more of a voice for their community.”