HOME: Conversations on Black Lives Matter

Repeats every day until Sat Sep 12 2020 . Also includes Sat Nov 14 2020.
September 12, 2020 - 11:00am - 12:30pm
November 14, 2020 - 11:00am - 12:30pm

HOME: Conversations on Black Lives Matter

Registration: These panels take place via Zoom; advance registration required. Click here to register.

Sign up to our HOME programming updates here.

The Lynden and the HOME Refugee Steering Committee are extending the HOME series of Conversations on Displacement and the Arts to respond to the sequence of events marked by the murder of George Floyd and coinciding with the global Covid-19 pandemic. Looking beyond the slogan, HOME: Conversations on Black Lives Matter aims to acknowledge this significant moment and to explore its impact on and within refugee and immigrant communities.

There are many discussions unfolding simultaneously in response to the sense of urgency around systemic issues that shape the lives of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in this country. The HOME conversations will pay particular attention to what these discussions look like on the ground for refugee and immigrant communities—communities that are both shaped by the systemic racism of American institutions and engaged in confronting internal histories of racial injustice, antiblackness, and inequity. Ultimately, we hope to define and dissect the complex issues faced by refugee communities that have resettled to the United States in addressing Black Lives Matter.


September 12, 2020: Participants in the first BLM/HOME panel, moderated by Paul Vang, include Sumeya Osman, Biak Hlawn, Toslimah Kanahan, and Marcela Garcia. Scroll down for more information on the participants.

November 14, 2020: Participants in the second BLM/HOME panel, moderated by Paul Vang, to be announced.

About the Participants

Moderator | Paul Vang serves as the Civic Engagement Director at HAWA, the Hmong American Women’s Association. He is a former science educator and is passionate about helping to build power within the Southeast Asian community by engaging in conversations with people at their doors, hosting educational events that are open to the public, and educating elected officials on the Southeast Asian population here in Milwaukee.

Sumeya Osman is a Somali refugee who lived in Uganda as an urban refugee for six years. Resettling to the United States, she's lived in Milwaukee for three years. As a community advocate and interpreter, her experience and skills range from working as a community health worker at Aurora Walker's Point Community Clinic with Kai Mishlove, to supporting initiatives at the local level with Public Allies and advocating for refugee rights. Her ongoing passion for grassroots engagement and community health has led her to pursue training as a doula and midwife within diverse communities, as well as encouraging talents in refugee youth. Sumeya is an active member of the HOME steering committee and is busily engaged with the planning of this annual, community-directed refugee event at Lynden. She is the event's co-MC, alongside Rohingya refugee Hasina Begum.

Biak Hlawn known as Hlawn, immigrated to the United States from Malaysia in 2010 as a Chin ethnic minority refugee from Myanmar (Burma). As a senior at Ronald Reagan High School in the upcoming school year, she aims to further her passion for activism and her involvement within her communities. She has served in leadership roles such as Student Council President, Class President, President and Founder of Asian Student Union, and the captain of Reagan’s varsity tennis team. She has been appointed to and selected for advocacy groups within Reagan such as the Office of Civil Rights, Reagan Student Advisory Board, and HOPE Squad. Other involvements within her school include Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) Club, National Honor Society, HOT Store, and more. Within her Chin community, Hlawn is one of the twelve elected youth leaders at Carson Chin Baptist Church and a member of the Praise & Worship and Media teams; she sits on the Youth Development Committee of the nationwide Chin Youth Organization (CYO); and she is also a promotional coordinator for the National Leadership Team of AB (American Baptists) Girls. Within the Milwaukee community, she a member of the Milwaukee Youth Council, representing the 13th district. Hlawn is a Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) scholar. Upon graduating, her career path remains a mystery but lies in pursuing her dedication in implementing and inspiring positive changes for the betterment of her community, the wider Milwaukee community, and beyond, while keeping rooted in her identity.

Toslimah Kahanan is a Rohingya refugee who resettled from Malaysia to Milwaukee in 2015. She has been actively involved in volunteer work and helps the community with interpreting, including at hospitals and local mosques, assisting newcomers to the US. During her years as a student at South Division High School, she has been in numerous leadership roles, including her involvement in Cardinal Council, and she is currently a continuing member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES). A recent high school graduate, she is continuing her education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she will be majoring in nursing. In choosing this career path, she hopes to become a direct community resource and to inspire young people to pursue their passions especially when it comes to helping their own community and many others.

Marcela “Xela” Garcia is a Xicana artist, innovator and cultural warrior, born in Guadalajara and raised in Milwaukee. She has extensive experience in the fields of arts and culture, education, philanthropy, and organizational sustainability, adding up to over ten years of systems and program development, implementation, and evaluation. A proud MPS alumna and resident of Milwaukee’s Southside, her deep commitment to cultural equity and change-making uniquely positions her to lead an organization with matching values.

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