North Texas Daily

North Texas activist leaders share their ideals and opinions at UNT panel

North Texas activist leaders share their ideals and opinions at UNT panel

North Texas activist leaders share their ideals and opinions at UNT panel
March 22
18:21 2017

With women’s activism becoming increasingly a part of the opposition protest against the current Trump administration, many women are asking what other steps they can take outside of protesting to make their activism count.

Five women activists, invited by UNT’s women’s and gender studies program, formed a panel to discuss what options women have to effect change in a country were they feel it is difficult to make change.

The guests represented different organizations in North Texas: Mosaic Family Services, North Texas Dream Team, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, the NAACP and Mothers Against Police Brutality.

The new presidential administration was a topic that was dealt with differently by each organization. The Mosaic Family Services and the NTDT believe that it has a big effect in their fight.

Kristian Hernandez, an activist from NTDT, said that deportation has always happened, but now people are more scared. Another activist with Mosaic, Aceil Rashid, said the initial travel ban by the Trump administration of seven majority-Muslim countries brought many students to ask for the organization’s help. 

Differently from the other representatives, the activists from Planned Parenthood and Mothers Against Police Brutality had a different perspective on things. Their fight did not change with the president, according to them, because their suffering and oppression is constant. 

“It’s an ongoing fight, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s worse,” the co-founder of Mothers Against Police Brutality Sara Mokuria said.

Where they started their fight

For many of the panelists, their fight has not been something they’ve invested their whole lives on. They had to come to a realization. Three of them shared their stories and talked about why they started fighting for women’s rights.

Mokuria saw her father being killed by two police officers in her house when she was a kid. This moment in her life brought her to fight against police brutality and after years she decided to co-found the Mothers Against Police Brutality organization.

“A club we don’t want anybody else to join,” Mokuria said. 

Brittany Burnam, the UNT student activist who represented the NAACP, grew up in a privileged suburban area, until she had to move to a lower income area and change school districts. That is when she saw all her privileges being taken away.

“Now my focus is in domestic poverty,” Burnam said.

She started her fight as a student at UNT and had to balance being a student, working and being an activist. Burnam said there were times when her friends would ask her to stop and take a break, because she was too exhausted.

Hernandez didn’t start like the others, she skipped school one day and instead went to a protest that was happening nearby. It piqued her interest in activism and she went to a discussion class. She said her start was slow and continues to this day. She is now an activist leader that “uses her privilege” to help others. 

“But know that this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Hernandez said.

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Julia Contarelli

Julia Contarelli

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