When I saw the following image and text, I was overwhelmed with pride for my fellow Michiganders and state leaders (who are not Muslims) standing proud to acknowledge that no Americans should be targeted or mistreated because of their faith. By joining the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, these local and state elected officials have committed to call out hate when they see it and condemn violence against a group of people solely based on their religion or ethnicity. They will refuse to be silent.
Why is this important? Engaging our neighbors, colleagues and public servants, who are not Arab and/or of Muslim faith is critical in combatting the increasingly negative images that are leading to criminal acts of hate against places of worship, schools and – now –our homes.
The civil rights movement in the U.S. would not have gained momentum until everyone, in addition to African Americans, stood up against the dehumanization and inequality of their neighbors. No law or new policy will change what is happening to Muslims in America, only public rejection and criticism by people from all walks of life. Right now, making bigoted remarks towards Arab and Muslim Americans is widely acceptable and sometimes encouraged.
A local block club in Detroit, Springdale Woodmere Block Club, and a nonprofit, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, joined the efforts of the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE. Many of them are my neighbors who held up signs stating that “Detroit loves its Muslim and Arab Neighbors.” The photo of these organizations coming together to Take on Hate has received over 20,000 social media hits across the nation because it represents the kind of solidarity we have been missing.
And now Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit City Council made history this week. My friend and Detroit Councilwoman Raquel Castañeda-López offered to help make the City of Detroit the first “city to Take on Hate.” A resolution will be introduced to make it official. The City of Detroit will help begin a movement to encourage local government to participate in helping protect the families directly impacted by hate and violence. Yes, this makes me proud to be a Detroiter.
Our children are growing up Muslim in America, and we have a duty to strengthen this movement against hate and violence towards all people. It is our responsibility to speak up when our Latino, Asian, and African American brothers and sisters are being targeted. Together, we are working to turn hate around into love and understanding.
My dream would be to honor what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “one of the most wonderful things that has happened in America,” the Detroit’s Walk to Freedom organized in 1963, by organizing the first ever March Against Hate. The Detroit Walk to Freedom was one of the largest civil rights demonstration in history and supporters marched to take a stand against segregation and violence. The Mayor stood side by side with the marchers that day. Although we are not there yet, Mayor Duggan is standing up with us. He and the Detroit City Council deserve our applause as they make history.