January 2018

OP-ED: Samia Assed / A New Hope

Immigrant rights rally at the New Mexico state capitol, 2017

 

As 2017 came to an end, so came the realization that even in the most trying of times, in resilience and rejoicing is the finding of the moral soul of America.

 

My reflection of the first year under the Trump administration is of a massive swirling hurricane entrenched with tweets and executive orders that have mapped out a deeper divide in our country. Many Americans find themselves gasping for air in a toxin-filled sea of hate, racism, poverty, misogyny, white supremacy, Islamophobia, xenophobia, transphobia and gun violence.

 

As a Muslim American, I continue to witness the demonization of Muslims, an endless war in the Middle East, sexism, ongoing attacks on immigrants as well as refugees, the Muslim Ban (versions 1-4), the revocation of DACA, and an attack on our fundamental rights to healthcare, education and civil liberties. To top it all off, we’ve also witnessed a tax bill that will result in the biggest transfer of wealth from poorest to richest. The continuation and acceptance of this is no less than utterly immoral.

 

The current direction of political leadership as well as the current political climate is more than enough to send Americans into a state of helplessness. Grassroots activists and organizers have organized, marched, protested and rallied against the administration’s agenda. Executive orders have hit us so hard, one after the other, in what has seemed to be an attempt to burn us out. So we must find inspiration as well as a way to sustain our work and the momentum of social justice movements.

 Faith and community leaders at the Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, Aug. 15, 2017

 

On Aug. 15, 2017, at the Central United Methodist Church in Albuquerque, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis joined other faith and community leaders in a press conference and march condemning the Charlottesville attacks and also launched their Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival Mass Meeting. I joined them alongside other New Mexican speakers—Arturo Uribe, Beata Tsosie-Peña, Todd Wyndham, Tina Córdova, and Monique Salhoub—in giving testimony to the injustices we’ve faced. Rev. Barber’s clear knowledge of history was breathtaking. The energy in the packed hall had this Muslim woman dancing and rejoicing in church. I knew that this would be the moral movement of our time. What excited me most was how the narrative of morality was at the center of this campaign. For as long as I can remember, the political and conservative “right” have co-opted the moral compass narrative. The Poor People’s Campaign has re-centered that back into our movement. This campaign has connected millions from every faith, gender and ethnicity. Our fight is rooted from a place of faith, spirituality and a keen sense of justice. Our humanity is what bonds us.

 

According to a study by the Institute For Policy Studies, there has been a 60 percent increase in Americans living under the poverty line since 1968, totaling nearly 41 million people, while the income of the top 1 percent of the nation has nearly doubled. The Poor People’s Campaign has four points of focus: systemic racism, poverty, environmental devastation and militarism. These points allow us to understand the connections that can be made from multiple forms of oppression. This campaign, for me, illustrates three solutions: a vision for our country that is morally just and inclusive; the interlinking of our struggles and the building of solidarity; the breaking of the cycle of apathy and disassociation.

 

Americans must step up to fight for the soul of this country. We need to move towards a vision that guarantees dignity, justice, equality and a real sense of self-determination for all people, no matter our color, religion, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. I am privileged to serve amongst others who are dedicated to this community as members of the New Mexico Poor People’s Core Committee. I invite you to join this campaign and the movement for moral revival.

 

Samia Assed is a Palestinian-Muslim-American, entrepreneur, human rights activist and mother. She is currently president of the board of Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. 505.999.8265, assedsamia@gmail.com, abqpeaceandjustice.org/

 

 

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