As the results came in on election night and as we saw more and more states turn red on our TV screens in favor of Donald Trump, I experienced panic, fear and numbness. As a Muslim-American woman and mother, the thoughts and images of what actions his campaign will bring upon Muslims and women had me spinning to make sense of what had just happened. This unexpected, unrealistic bid for the most powerful seat in the world had become a nightmare reality for Muslim Americans. The threats of Trump’s campaign promise to hit home a thousand times over.
The president-elect ran a campaign based on fear that has already encouraged many attacks on Muslim Americans and their institutions. I personally have been verbally attacked, spat on, stalked and chased by cars. Dozens of Muslim women have been attacked in supermarkets while holding their children’s hands. It makes me worry about my kids’ safety and that of my community. Through this hateful environment, I learned to appreciate and share the fears of black and brown mothers. Profiling, surveillance and always being suspect is a reality our sons face every day now. Hate and ignorance knows no color and has no shame!
Many friends and fellow New Mexicans have reached out to us, assuring us of their love and support, which has been uplifting and inspiring. New Mexicans have marched against hate, held vigils, written letters of support and solidarity with Muslims, visited our local mosques, as well as participated in interfaith activities. Many have worn safety pins, and many organizations have joined the “Register me first” movement. These are all well-intended actions, but more needs to be done so that New Mexicans can be a factor in creating real change.
Here are a few things you can do to stand in solidarity with the Muslim Americans, in New Mexico and nationally.
1. Step Up, Step Back! As a community activist and organizer, I know how important solidarity-building is. Now more than ever, we need our non-Muslim allies to step up and support us. But please understand the need to step back from a space of privilege and offer a platform to those communities suffering real threats. We need to listen and take leadership from organizations and activists that advocate for their communities. Being uplifting and giving space and agency will lead to real effective change and not just a feel-good, get-rid-of-your-guilt kind of action.
2. Hate-free communities. Be an agent of change and pledge to never tolerate hate in your workforce, businesses, schools, religious institutions and community. Have conversations about who we are and what we stand for as a nation. Training in anti-Muslim racism and bystander actions are excellent tools. Please contact me about future trainings at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. Never underestimate local community power; be the change you want to see!
3. Support Syrian refugees. There are over 350 organizations nationwide whose work is centered on resettling refugees. Two local organizations I know of are Catholic Charities of New Mexico and Lutheran Family Services-Rocky Mountains. Please help point out the facts to state officials and lawmakers. Refugees are not a threat! Donate time and get to know these families. It makes for a better community.
4. Get involved in local politics, and hold your congressman accountable to any legislation. It is your tax money that will be used for policy change. Call and make sure your voice is heard. You have that right, to make sure to use this right before you lose it.
5. Be a bridge to build trust and community. Get to know a Muslim, visit a mosque (ICNM), and open your heart and mind. Our country depends on it!
Samia Assed is a Palestinian-Muslim-American, an entrepreneur, human rights activist and mother of nine. She is currently the president of the board of Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. 505.999.8265, email@example.com, abqpeaceandjustice.org/
The Santa Fe Refugee Collaborative
The Santa Fe Refugee Collaborative held its first community “Stone Soup” potluck-discussion in November. SFRC was formed to provide information and forge connections with the community at large to “channel energy, resources and compassion to foster a better future for some of our newest and most vulnerable families,” said Miraj Bukhari-Frayer, SFRC’s founder. “We connect individuals and organizations with families with specific needs, towards the goal of well-being, resiliency and dignity.” Families that the SFRC is assisting are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Chad, Congo, Mozambique, El Salvador, Honduras and other countries.
The collaborative has forged connections with local refugee resettlement organizations, such as Lutheran Family Services and Catholic Charities, and with the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, Dar al-Islam of Abiquiú, Masjid al-Rahma in Santa Fe; and interfaith communities including St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church and the Unitarian Church. SFRC has also formed alliances with Santa Fe Prep, Desert Academy, Santa Fe Community College, Salam Academy, and the University of New Mexico Muslim Student Association; as well as with the Santa Fe Council on International Relations, representatives of local government offices, and a variety of organizations committed to social justice.
The SFRC has scheduled a series of “Refugees Speak” Q&A panel discussions. The first is Jan. 8 at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe. For more information, call 505.490.6575, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or, on Facebook: Santa Fe Refugee Collaborative.