(DeAndre McDay / MJ)

BY DEANDRE MCDAY, Staff Writer

UM-Dearborn’s Arab Student Union (ASU) held their 7th annual “Empowering the Youth” banquet this Friday, at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn.

Dozens of local and national benefactors poured into the banquet hall to honor and celebrate the extensive amount of work the organization has done for the Arab community.

Local doctors, lawyers, practitioners in all fields of medicine, bankers, professors—Members from the community in nearly every field of work and study gathered to show their love and support.

Mahde Abdallah and Dennis Kucinich at the banquet. (DeAndre McDay / MJ)

Even the featured speaker, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, was moved.

“I so value being at the Bint Jebail Cultural Center…it feels like being home…” said Kucinich.

Although the banquet was a joyous occasion, it didn’t stop members from taking the time out to discuss serious ongoing matters. The stereotyping of Arab American culture, the ongoing war in the East, the dangers of legislation like NDAA and the Patriot Act—all these topics and more were discussed over the course of the evening.

(DeAndre McDay / MJ)

Kucinich went on to say that before visiting the Bint Jebail Cultural Center here in Dearborn, he visited the Bint Jebail Center in Lebanon after the war there in 2006. He spoke of a city ravaged by seemingly endless violence and turmoil.

“It was not a happy occasion,” he said. “I saw a level of devastation in my life that I had never before seen in my life, and I’ve never seen since—where it was unusual to see a structure that had not been damaged, and usual to most structures flattened.”

Despite the shadow of such monumental challenges facing the Arab community, patrons of the event remained enthused about the future. ASU presented various gifts and awards to outstanding individuals who contributed to the organization throughout the year. Members sang songs, recited poetry, and, of course, there was food!

The night ended with a raffle and a live auction, both of which generated funds that will be used to further the organization’s humanitarian causes.

According to ASU, the organization is committed to two objectives:

  • On a local level, to increase positive awareness of the Arab American heritage, while decreasing the harmful stereotyping of the people of this culture. We will work with civil rights organizations to help preserve the civil rights of Arab Americans as well as all other Americans.
  • On an International level, to help end the oppression of Arabs. We will remain politically active in support of justice for the Arab people.

Those interested in the work of the Arab Student Union can find out more by checking out their page on Facebook and Twitter: @asuumd.