Series brings congresswoman to campus

Angel Kidka

Sacramento State held its first ever Distinguished Lecture as part of a new series aimed to promote campus and community togetherness, inclusivity and the importance of proper education regarding social and political issues.

“Hysteria, Racism, Politics: Parallels Between the WWII Japanese American Internment and Attitudes toward the Muslim Community” featured a keynote address from Congresswoman Doris Matsui, who spoke on the racial history of California and provided personal stories of her family’s time in a Japanese internment camp from her birth to the age of three.

Matsui spoke on her concerns about parallels between those dark times for the Japanese and the current issues Muslims are facing in America and all around the world.

Matsui also said it is important for everyone to examine the past because we, as a nation and as individuals, are a result of history, the good and the bad parts. She said it is imperative to accept that so we can move on and not make the same mistakes we once did.

“We have more in common than what separates us,” Matsui said. “I truly believe that America has a unique capacity to overcome our division. We can avoid a repeat of past mistakes, but it takes a conscious effort of every citizen.”

The event also featured a Q&A panel moderated by Professor Timothy Fong and featuring distinguished guests, including Sac State graduate student Ahlam Abdul-Rahman; Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations Basim Elkarra; and internment survivor and activist Marielle Tsukamoto.

Abdul-Rahman and Elkarra spoke on the stigmas and misconceptions they faced growing up as Muslims in America, as well as the overwhelming burden they carried having to prove themselves and defend their culture. They encouraged students to not be afraid to ask questions to become educated in order to end the prejudice.

“Muslims not only have to educate others, but students have to take the initiative to educate themselves about other cultures before making judgments,” Abdul-Rahman said.

The overall theme of inclusivity, togetherness and historical and cultural awareness in the first Distinguished Lecture is something the Sac State community can expect more of in the near future, according to President Robert Nelsen.

“I think it is crucial that we come together as a Hornet family,” Nelsen said. “I don’t want this to be the conclusion. I want the conversation to continue. We faced some hard truths tonight, but only a few. There are a lot more hard truths that we have to face.”

Correction: The byline originally credited Angel Guerrero. The correct author is Angel Kidka.