How can we do these things?
1. Educate ourselves.
Muslims are not being attacked in a vacuum. Gain an intersectional understanding of the structures and actors of violence that are responsible for maintaining hateful dominance in society. Like it is not our responsibility to speak on behalf of all Muslims or have to explain why all Muslims are not terrorists time and time again (I hope you’re not still doing this), it is not the responsibility of other communities to tirelessly educate you on the issues they are facing. This is an emotionally exploitative ask of others, especially when it has already been laid out for you in the reading lists below.
- #CharlottesvilleCurriculum: Follow the hashtag and check out this crowdsourced thread, in real time, that is being created in response to Melinda D. Anderson’s Twitter response to the death and violence in Charlottesville, VA.
- The Charlottesville Syllabus: A resource created by the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation at the University of Virginia for an audience who wants to learn about the history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston: While, as the title states, this article puts for reading recommendations for white Americans, these readings can also provide context for individuals who are challenged by anti-racist work.
- #BlackLivesMatter: A Longform Reading List: A collection of interviews, essays and articles by black people about the systematic violence waged on black people.
- Post Orlando / Post Brexit Anti-Islamophobia Reading List: A collection of works that shed light on the origins and current manifestations of Islamophobia.
- 45 Queer and Feminist Books You Need To Read in Early 2017: A huge list of works that highlight queer and feminist narratives, stories, and analysis.
- The Stop Trump Reading List: Arm Your Mind With These 16 Books: Curated by Haymarket Books so we can better “understand how Trump got elected, how we got to this point, and how we can organize for the future”.
- #BlackChurchSyllabus: A list of works by scholars and theologians that can better inform and support social justice work in religious spaces.
- The Alternative Reading LIst Project: From postcolonialism to economics to Islam, this forum was launched and is run by Oxford University student aiming to amplify voices that are traditionally marginalized in academia.
If hateful rhetoric, actions, and policy are left unchallenged, they multiply. They affect the health of communities and community members, and will escalate in unimaginable ways. You can call your representative to voice your concern, or you can call your friend to make sure they are doing alright and not suffering alone. Rock the boat at masjid, if your community is not already critically engaged with anti-oppressive work — take them there. You can volunteer your time to educate children on diverse issues at local schools, offer to repair hateful vandalism, or donate your money to organizations doing the work. Most importantly, you can support grassroots organizations that are already doing the work — trust me, your community has many — just look a little harder.
Use your voice in the community, in the classroom, through your writing, and social media presence to create space for those who are contributing to a just society.
3. Speak up.
Do not remain silent. Actively denounce hate groups and hate crimes to contribute to a culture of accountability. Do not waste your energy combatting “keyboard warriors” and aggressive trolls. Instead, use your voice in the community, in the classroom, through your writing, and social media presence to create space for those who are contributing to a just society. Centralize the voices of those who are being attacked, in the moment. Silence condones hate.
4. Think about the future.
The progress that has been made in the United States in the past century, from the abolition of slavery to the victory of women suffragists to the legality of same-sex marriage, although far from perfect, has been the result of intentional long-term activism, campaigns, protests, and policy change. Every time you host or attend an interfaith gathering, attend a vigil or protest, campaign for change in your local community, you are investing in a future that looks a lot more like what we wish our present could be.
5. There are already people doing this work.
If part of your paralysis is rooted in anxiety that you do not know how to help, know that people in your city are already engaging with this work at a community level. They have already identified the issues that are negatively impacting the community, and are already engaged in confronting them. No one is asking you to remake the wheel, your desire to do so is rooted in white savior complex, the well intentioned cousin of white supremacy. SURJ, Showing Up for Racial Justice, has a thorough list of local contacts that you can reach out to if you don’t know where to start.