BH Welcomes Professor Intisar Rabb to Speak About Muslim Law at Diversity Day 2016

On Monday May 16 at 8 am, the Hamilton Chapel was roaring with excitement, as the first workshop of Diversity Day was being held. Cary Weir-Lyte and Jamele Adams led the School through a series of exercises where, alongside the windows of the Chapel, there were papers labelled Hispanic, the Man, White, Black, Muslim, and Asian. Students would shout out words which stereotypically associated with each one. For example, in response to The Man, students wrote courageous, brave, and strong. The workshop went on for about thirty minutes, as everyone in the chapel was engaged in the discussion, before Weir-Lyte led a discussion about the validity, or lack thereof, of each label. After a quick break for donuts, the entire school headed back into the Chapel, where three student leaders read off from a questionnaire answered a few days before from each student in the school. The categories included race, religion, gender, sexuality, and family situation. The workshop was entitled  the Silent Movement, as no sounds were heard except for the voices of the leaders. Each boy had a random sheet of paper which had a questionnaire answered by another boy in the school. When a topic was called, one had to stand and, to quote the leaders, “look at the people standing, look at the people sitting, reflect.”

After the Silent Movement, students dispersed into different workshops located across campus. Personally, I was in Group 8: The Powerful Voice of Stereotypes in Social Media. The leaders, Frank McField and Hamza Shemsu, posted tweets on the projector, and students would have to discuss whether the writing were hate speech or legal freedom of speech? On almost every tweet, there was an agreement on the speech. As the different groups completed the activities, the school body headed to chapel, where guest speaker Professor Intisar Rabb from Harvard University came to speak about doubt in Muslim law. She described the basics of Muslim law and told the story of the first case of doubt in Muslim law. A man was found dead, and another man stood over him with a blood-stained knife. The man in possession of the weapon was immediately charged with murder. Eventually, the judges discovered that the man was actually a butcher and had nothing to do with the crime. After a walk-through lunch, students broke off into the second workshop of the day. My second workshop was #1: A Perspective on Perspective: Diversity at Belmont Hill. The workshop, in which computers were set up around the room with pictures displayed on each of them, was led by Mr. Ekwelum. Each person had sticky notes would write a word or phrase associated with the image. In conclusion, Diversity Day was a powerful experience for many students at Belmont Hill and displayed the many different viewpoints contained at Belmont Hill and beyond.

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