Confronting White Supremacy on Campus: Epistemic Disobedience, Free Speech, and Protest
A. Kayum Ahmed
Thursday, February 22, 2018
4:00pm - 5:30pm
As one of the students who faced disciplinary action at Columbia University for "interrupting/disrupting" white supremacist speakers on campus, A. Kayum Ahmed reflects on his experiences and offers some insights on the question of free speech. Employing Mignolo's framework of 'epistemic disobedience' he contests Columbia University's characterization of free speech as an American value, arguing that it obfuscates deeper underlying concerns about power and violence. Notions of free speech have become a proxy for upholding racism, patriarchy, and oppression, and can be conceived as a mechanism for perpetuating violence—both structural and epistemic—by those in power and by those who control the First Amendment narrative.
The Human Rights Institute &
The Initiative on Campus Dialogues
A. Kayum Ahmed is a Doctoral Fellow at Teachers College, Columbia University and an Adjunct Faculty member at Columbia Law School. Prior to joining Columbia University as a student and faculty member, Ahmed served as Chief Executive Officer of the South African Human Rights Commission from 2010 to 2015. During his term at the Commission, Ahmed led a team of 178 colleagues to monitor, protect and promote human rights in South Africa, and oversaw the management of nearly 45,000 human rights cases. Following his involvement in anti white supremacist protests at Columbia University, Ahmed was placed on a right wing "Professor Watchlist" whose mission is "to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom."