Panel of Five to Present at Genocide and Slavery Conference at MSU Denver
In the United States, it is relatively easy to ignore the devastating global atrocities that are slavery and genocide. While hundreds of thousands of people are being enslaved and murdered worldwide; Americans reside far enough away to consider the epidemic “out of sight, out of mind,” even though slavery is still legal in the United States.
Thanks to the 13th Constitutional Amendment, slavery is still legal in the United States. More than 15 state constitutions allow for the legal practice of slavery, including Colorado.
That’s right! It’s 2018 and slavery is still legal in the state of Colorado. In November, voters will have the ability to abolish slavery in Colorado for good. But the better question to ask is what took so long? Why did we overlook it for so long? The most likely answer is a lack of awareness.
Timing couldn’t be more ideal to inform, educate and bring awareness to the abhorrent conditions that allow “Man’s inhumanity to man” to continue. An upcoming conference at Metropolitan State University of Denver intends to do just that.
In cooperation with faculty from Metropolitan State University and the University of Denver, the Coalition Against Global Genocide (CoAGG) will hold a panel conference on Genocide and Slavery: Awareness, Prevention Reconciliation and Reparations on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Cajetan’s.
A diverse panel of five educators and activists will participate in the event, which will be moderated by author, educator and MSU Denver professor Alfonzo Porter.
The conference will be split into two roundtable sessions with lunch in between. The first session will focus on awareness and prevention featuring contributions from activist Omhagain Dayeen, an artist and a Sudanese refugee. In the capital of the country, she studied and earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in education. She taught at the university until she was eventually forced to leave Sudan. As a displaced artist from the countryandculture she treasured, Dayeen continued to create artwork canvassed in culture. Her U.S. work, which was put on display at the headquarters of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), showcased the beauty of a culture now under siege.
As a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Colorado, Denver, Dayeen continues her studies and activism with the hope of helping her people, by raising awareness about the victims of genocide, and teaching others that education is the key to a life of peace.
Co-founder of Coalition for an Inclusive Colorado (CIC), Obeid Kaifo, is a first-generation Syrian-American Muslim. He was born in L.A. and raised in Aurora, Colorado.Kaifo’s parents are from Aleppo, Syria. His first and last trip to Syria was in late December 2008. He has lost four family members to the crisis in Syria and his family has made several dozen trips to southern Turkey, actively helping Syrian refugees since 2012. CIC creates and supports community events that protect and respect the rights of those who wish to call Colorado home. Kaifo works to bridge the gap between Syrian refugees, Muslim Americans and the Syrian Community. He aims to create an environment that can help integrate refugees and immigrants more effectively, while facilitating and supporting a normal way of life and an easier transition into Western culture and society.
Charles “Charlie” Plenty Wolf of the Oglala Lakota tribe is a land activist and community organizer who has been a water protector for most of his adult life. He has lived and learned his traditional values under the guidance of his father Chief Lee Plenty Wolf. He spent four months at the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock Reservation, fighting for the rights of many and experiencing mistreatment in ways that he will never forget. Charlie is the promotion and recruitment manager for the Boulder Valley Indigenous Peoples Day Parade and Pow Wow.
The afternoon sessionofconference will focus on Reparations and Reconciliation featuring contributions from attorney and entrepreneur Aubrey Ardema, who has a background in international criminal law and U.S. immigration law. She worked for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, an international court focused on the Rwandan genocide. She also worked with the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, a hybrid domestic-international court focused on crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. Upon returning to the United States, Ardema opened her own immigration law practice in Denver. She continues her interest in international law within Denver’s international law community and continues to reflect on the relationships among international courts, traditional and alternative domestic systems of justice, and national reconciliation.
Dr. Douglas Mpondi is an associate professor and department chair of Africana Studies at MSU Denver. With a teaching concentration on research methodology, Mpondi will provide a critical viewabout the genocide in Zimbabwe. As an educator, Dr. Mpondi has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and an M.A. in African studies from Ohio University. His M.A. and a B.A in African languages and literature, and postgraduate certificate in education, are all from the University of Zimbabwe. Dr. Mpondi has published book chapters on national culture and globalization in Zimbabwe. And, he is also fluent in four African languages.
The fearless five individuals on the panel are guaranteed to bring a breadth of insight, information and collective experience, allowing foramuch needed dialogue on how we can all improve our efforts in eradicating genocide and slavery.
Genocide and slavery are not merely global atrocities, but rather a reflection of inhumanity. At the conference on Nov. 14, we will all get an opportunity to look at ourselves in the mirror.
Editor’s note: The Genocide and Slavery: Awareness, Prevention Reconciliation and Reparations conference will be held on Nov. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the MSU Auraria Campus, St. Cajetan’s Center, 101 Lawrence Way in Denver. For more information or sponsorship opportunities,visit: www.genocideandslaveryconference.com.