Monday, June 05, 2006

YOUR SMILE AND OUTREACHED HAND MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE

I came across this headline MN Poised to Make History, Send First Muslim American to U.S. Congress through veiled4allah blog where I find her views informative and refreshing.

Keith Ellison said,
“I think it’s time for the United States to see a moderate Muslim voice, to see a face of Islam that is just like everybody else’s face,” Ellison said. “Perhaps it would be good for somebody who is Muslim to be in Congress, so that Muslims would feel like they are part of the body politic and that other Americans would know that we’re here to make a contribution to this country.”


I just think Muslims have gotten a bad rap and have become obviously, a scapegoat. The saturation of negative media images is a mile long. Ten miles long. And as a result, anyone with middle eastern heritage seems to get lumped in with that and so have to deal with a special slice of racism directed their way, just for them.

Consequently, keep your Islamic friends in mind--or brown friends who fit the "profile" (because they may not even be Muslim)--and make it very clear you appreciate them. If you don't have friends of this or related heritage, find some.

I remember just after 9/11 an activist friend of mine organized a vigil outside a shop owned by brown-skinned middle-eastern folks. We loved them and knew they were not at fault or connected in any way to 9/11 and wanted to make sure others in the community knew we backed them. Plus keep a watch as a sort of protection. This made a big impression on me.

The first time I had seen this sort of "watch" was at age 17 when I stayed with the Yippies in New York. One of the gals and I were walking her dog late one night and encountered a street arrest in progress. This gal stopped and made it clear we were observing what was going on.

It's time, really time, to be there for each other and notice what groups are getting unduly targeted and speak up, befriend folks and make a difference.

You make a difference in everything you do. You make a difference in the world by the choices you make and in each relationship you put attention on.

YOU DO! Yes, YOU!

7 Comments:

Anonymous douglass said...

Sea,

It's good that you pointed out that ethnic (Arab) geographic (middle eastern) and Religious (Muslim) labels are NOT interchangeable.

Also, It's good to point out that the 'terrorist' is a rare bird.

Anyway, I think that you are strawmanning those who are opposed to Islam.

They aren't bumpkins who don't understand the world.

They know that regardless of what individuals say, Islam is what it is.

Islam is not tolerant towards non-Muslims, in fact it demands their submission.

[See the Koran and the Hadith.]

10:41 PM PDT  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

Well, I have a few friends who are Muslim and they put up with me anyway. And I love them. And I think they actually love me and there's a place in their mind that this contradicts everything--that they are close to a non-Muslim white American woman is a first. They are the first in their large family as well.

There's something about this friendship that is very cool.

I sometimes go into doubt, "Why am I doing this?" "why am I putting alot of time into this?" It's like "This can't possible GO anywhere." And I actually can't say a coherent answer. Except that it's so GOOD for me to have a friendship for no particular reason. It's not a to-do list.

So, sometimes there's no particular reason. Except the human connection--the children running and playing in circles and laughing with my children--I got all the women together and we did an exercise class--and damn if the food isn't delicious. (They are from Pakistan.) My fave is saag.

I admit, I have done listening exchange in Urdu which was kind of an agenda. But it was the sweetest thing. Very sweet.

Whadya say Douglass? A little hang out time couldn't hurt anything? :-) Heck it might even make some kind of freaky difference in the world, in a positive kind of way.

*grin*

7:24 PM PDT  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

ps Douglass, I struggle with the sense that I'm "heathen" to them but it's familiar to me because I grews up with strict Christians.

7:26 PM PDT  
Anonymous douglass said...

Sea,

I'm sure that your Muslim friends love you as their friend.

I know that Muslims are people and with all things considered, aren't that different from other people.

But, there is dissonance between a person's right to have a particular set of beliefs (I.E. Islam) and the notion of real peace and real equality between people who practice their rights to hold conflicting religious outlooks.

For example, In the case of religions like shia Islam and evangelical Christianity, You can't have both real equality and the real practice of conflicting religious beliefs.

sure it is fun playing in the sun like happy rainbow people.

Stalin Roosevelt and Churchill met at Yalta and probably had a great lunch and a nice little chat, but their war was not fun, the Bosnian civil war was not fun, Iraq is not fun, Palestine is not fun and the darfur is not fun.

I can't just say: it's all good Muslim comrades!

The politics of these matters carry ancient baggage and bitter resentments that are not revealed in on the surface but somehow always end up being settled on battlefields.

like this one:

http://www.archive.org/details/dagistan

10:13 AM PDT  
Blogger Sea's Blog said...

Thx. You laid it all out well.

So, should I just get hopeless? I could. And have my moments ...

I do what I can do. I reach who I can reach. I befriend who I can befriend.

I try to stay positive while developing my own capacity to think about the big picture. If you or I realized our capacity as powerful human beings I think either one of us could change the course we're on. You or I, by freeing up our minds, could take charge and set things right--in my narrow view (to steal a phrase from your articulate posts)--at least it means the end of humans harming humans ... at best some really cool things we could all do together!

Meanwhile, I parent.

4:24 PM PDT  
Anonymous douglass said...

:)

6:14 PM PDT  
Anonymous Tariq Nelson said...

Sea,

Thanks for the nice comments. You seem to be very fair. I hope that a moderate Muslim voice can go to Congress someday as well. The UK already has one

4:39 PM PDT  

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