A Talk with Janaya Khan: Five Tactics Challenging Injustices

Last month, September 28, 2016, Janaya Khan joined us here at Eastern Connecticut State University (Eastern). For those who do not know, Khan is an activist and social justice educator who spent the past several years fighting for Black liberation, trans-feminism, transformational justice and indigenous sovereignty on the academic and social justice front.

Khan came to Eastern just days after protesting in North Carolina along with her fellow coordinators and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. Khan shared tools with the Eastern community about how to stand up and educate others in the face of racism, discrimination, and micro aggressions.


Khan reminded us that sometimes our fight to speak for injustices are often challenged by five tactics. These tactics are Derailment,(“Black on Black crime is the a real issue here”), Reduction (“Others are experiencing these things too”), Minimalization (“It was just a joke!”), Tokenism (“I have friends who are Black”), and Hurt (“Talking about these things make me uncomfortable”). Khan empowered those at the workshop and university hour to react to comments like these with thought provoking responses for the challenger that forces them to personally confront their oppressive views. Khan concluded with educating the audience on transformative justice, addressing consent and justice calling for community accountability. This would movement would be anti-police and prisons and in place give people the chance to transform.

“Privilege isn’t about what you’ve been through, (that’s yours). Privilege is about what you haven’t had to go through,” Janaya Khan’s response to a Caucasian man at the workshop who asked how he can recognize his privilege in different aspects and use it to help fight for others. As a community at Eastern Connecticut State University we can all take a moment to acknowledge our privilege and lack thereof for all of those victimized by the injustices effecting the men, women, gender non-conforming, and economically disadvantaged people of color that Khan spoke of. What we can take away from this event is that this movement is heading in a direction where people of all identities can unite together.

For more information about programs sponsored by the Women’s Center in the Unity Wing, please contact our Graduate Assistant, Courtney Mayberry at mayberryc@easternct.edu.

Written by: Joshlynn and Taylor, Student Ambassadors of the Women’s Center