February 23, 2017
Linda Sarsour is “feeling bolder and braver than ever”
by Taylor Sperry
“I want you to keep telling yourself: ‘THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS NOT NORMAL.’ Repeat until it sinks to the deepest of your core.”
That’s Linda Sarsour—“working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three”—in her contribution to What We Do Now, one of many increasingly galvanizing, high-profile rallying cries against the Trump administration and the hateful, bullshit culture it represents.
Most recently, Sarsour has helped raise more than $80,000 to repair damage at the Jewish Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in St. Louis, where nearly 200 headstones were vandalized last week after a rash of anti-Semitic threats. The fundraising campaign is representative of Sarsour’s powerful message of intersectional solidarity, and its page emphasizes Muslim Americans’ support for the Jewish community:
While these senseless acts have filled us with sorrow, we reflect on the message of unity, tolerance, and mutual protection found in the Constitution of Medina: an historic social contract between the Medinan Jews and the first Muslim community. We are also inspired by the example of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who stood up to pay respects for a passing Jewish funeral procession. When questioned on why he stood for a Jewish funeral, he responded,“Is it not a human soul?” [Source: Bukhari]…
Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.
If you haven’t been following Sarsour’s work, get on it. An ACLU profile from August described her as “a leader in the truest sense of the word… For Sarsour, there were lessons to be learned, examples to be followed, allies to be gained, and strength to be found in numbers — something minorities by definition lack.”
And since the election, her efforts have only become more visible and impactful. On the heels of helping to organize the historic Women’s March on Washington in January, she announced earlier this week that she’ll be leaving her post as Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York to “become more active on a national level”:
“I will be traveling the country training organizers and local Arab and Muslim communities in effective campaigning and movement building. I will continue to raise my voice to push policies that protect and uplift the most marginalized communities… The fight is in me and I am feeling bolder and braver than ever.”
Follow (and join!) her efforts at @lsarsour.
Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.