Learning to listen at Cultural Appreciation Day

  • Speaker and activist Hawa Tarawally joined the Amandla Chorus for song at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Activist Hawa Tarawally speaks at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Activist Hawa Tarawally spoke alongside attorney Buz Eisenberg at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Attorney Buz Eisenberg speaks at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • The Amandla Chorus sings at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Center for New American's Rosa Guerra spoke at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

  • Greenfield Community College Women's Resource Center's Rosemarie Freeland spoke at the Cultural Appreciation Day at the Franklin County Justice Center. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon—

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/28/2017 7:28:56 PM

GREENFIELD — Listen.

“I’m going to talk about what I think justice is,” Hawa Tarawally said.

What’s justice mean to the Greenfield Community College student, a recent immigrant from Sierra Leone?

“Listening is one way to adjudicate justice, because when you listen — listening with no strings attached, listening with no preference ... just listening from an objective point of view — that is justice,” Tarawally said.

After people listened to the afternoon’s keynote speaker, local attorney and activist for immigrants Buz Eisenberg, they were schooled by his recent student.

“The court system will never be able to adjudicate justice,” Tarawally said, “without understanding the plight of the people.”

The current GCC student spoke about what justice means to her at the first “Cultural Appreciation Day” at the Franklin County Justice Center Thursday, an event organized to inform people about ways to be more inclusive and celebrate current leaders in the community. Tarawally arrived from Sierra Leone this past winter, and after spending less than a year in the United States, she noted to the crowd gathered at the court what this moment means to her.

“I’m not a U.S. citizen, but standing here, in a U.S. court, talking about justice itself, I think that’s a very good concept of justice,” Tarawally said. “By no means should I be standing here talking to you about justice, but being given the opportunity, regardless of my identity, of my age, of my gender, regardless of all of those differences, it’s justice to me.”

Since coming to the country, she has quickly become an activist, primarily speaking out against female genital mutilation. This past summer, she worked in Washington, D.C., at the nonprofit Break the Cycle, which works with young people, typically in cases of domestic violence. That’s where she picked up on the value of listening when it comes to justice.

“Justice is when you give a group of people, a community or individual their rights to exercise their freedom of speech with no fear of persecution,” Tarawally said. “That’s what I think justice is.”

Her speech came at an event that heard different voices — from Tarawally’s and Eisenberg’s advocating for justice, to GCC’s Women’s Resource Center’s Rosemarie Freeland speaking about the struggles of poverty and how the college tries its part to remedy them. The Center for New American’s Rosa Guerra informed the crowd what immigrants do every day as they work to become citizens.

“We want to make sure that everyone feels justice is served here and, at the very least, that they are heard,” the event’s organizer, Linda Singer said.

Singer would introduce Eisenberg, who spoke on the origins of freedom and giving rights to those free in this country.

The attorney shared a story, after his brief history lesson, about a dinner his wife and he had with a fellow couple. Afterward, they talked about how the two of them were very different people from each other, yet they are a very happy couple.

“We couldn’t be more different,” Eisenberg said. “Our conversation over coffee that morning is that we make each other better. We’re better as a unit.”

Pointing to the justice system and the country as a whole, Eisenberg said differences between people are what makes the country, and similarly, the justice system potentially great.

“We’re better with people who are diverse and see through different lenses, because none of us are right all of the time,” Eisenberg said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906

 

Copyright © 2019 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy