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Written by Hailey Lam and Julliette Paul
Social issues at Townsend Harris are normally discussed in heated, biased debates on Facebook. However, these past few months, The Phoenix has redirected the arguments into a more productive outlet, by creating works of poetry and art.
The Al-Rahma reading focused on the impact Islamophobia has on the global society. Students were able to depict the harmful effects of prejudice against Muslims in works of expression. Editor in Chief senior Kristine Guillaume said that through this reading she “wanted to respond, to reach out to everyone who may be feeling inferior or may be feeling discriminated against.”
Freshman Asiya Koli read “Fear of,” by Devin Kelly a poem written in response to the time one of her students “expressed her fear of Islamophobia,” her poem offers a window into a teacher’s experience trying to grapple with how to teach about fear and hate.
Social studies teacher Mr. O’Malley presented the audience with an ancient text, a Mu’allaqat, a group of seven long poems from the pre-Islamic era. The poet, Imru’l-qays. relays his conquests with multiple women in these poems using vivacious imagery to the audience.
Junior Noel Du created a visual representation of the alienating discrimination Muslims often face and the damage it can cause on the psyche of children. She told the short story through the eyes of a Muslim woman and her experiences with Islamophobia in the form of a slideshow comic. Junior William Mun, inspired by her presentation created his own comic based on the life of a transgender person and their struggles at the Spectrum Reading. These comics were projected onto the ceiling, giving the comics a cinematic quality. The Spectrum reading, a collaboration with GSA, shed light on the hardships that the LGBT community continues to face. The trend of discrimination against minorities perseveres, despite the recent legitimization of same sex marriage. The members of the GSA and The Phoenix came together to show solidarity. Senior Florabencia Fils-Aime said, “[The] GSA was able to spread the different ways that gender and sexuality can be expressed in media and it was very interesting hearing from the different speakers.”