Reclaiming Muslim Identity, Letting Kids be Kids, and Millennial Activism

February 27, 2017

With the deluge of Donald Trump’s recent Executive Orders, ICE raids, “law and order” narratives and so on, we are trying to focus our energy on the many artists and activists who are responding and resisting in powerful ways. Not only are our partners developing actionable strategies and solutions to the problems and crises we are facing, but they are finding new ways to amass inspiration in difficult times. We’re proud to share a few examples in this month’s Partner News.

Feminist, Muslim, Iranian-American comedian and Creative Change Alumna Zahra Noorbakhsh (CC ’16) takes the stage with "On Behalf of All Muslims" at campuses and cities across the country this spring to "reclaim her Muslim identity, and complicate its narrative."  While the show was at the Islamic Center in Oakland, CA, 90 percent of her audiences were not Muslim nor from Oakland, but seeking to show their solidarity for the center during a time of shootings and Mosque burnings. "On Behalf of All Muslims" is a rare and much needed opportunity to celebrate differences and reconnect with the unique immigrant narratives rooted in our shared American identities. More about the show here.

Cartoon image of a Muslim person with the text On Behalf of All Muslims and a microphone indicating that it is a podcast

Rap Sessions, lead and founded by Creative Changer Bakari Kitwana (CC ’16), is conducting a 2017 national millennial discussion tour called “Run Toward Fear: Millennial Activism & Social Justice in the Trump Era.” A panel will be held tonight, Feb. 28 at Northeastern University . Panelists include hip-hop artist/ activist Jasiri X, Yusef Salam (exonerated member of the Central Park Five), Greisa Martinez (Advocacy Director of United We Dream), Tamika Mallory (Co-Chair of Women's March on Washington), and Toussaint Losier (Assistant Professor of History, UMass Amherst).

Communications Institute Fellow Gina Womack (CI ’15) wrote a powerful op-ed for Ebony on the need to connect with children who are incarcerated on Valentine’s Day. “ Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), as part of our Let Kids Be Kids campaign, will “Stand in Love” with incarcerated children in Louisiana. “We’re doing that by reaching out to community members and leaders in Louisiana and throughout the country to ask them to create valentines — some on video and some just like the ones we remember making in school — to send to kids who are incarcerated,” wrote Gina, who is the executive director of FFLIC. The story was also picked up on the local ABC affiliate .

Immigrant Rights Policy Strategist for the ACLU of Texas Astrid Dominguez (CI ’16) wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today calling for the federal government and states to leave local police out of federal deportation activities. “Forcing local law enforcement to comply with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainers not only violates the civil rights of the people they target, it also puts police officers in an untenable position: choose between breaking a state law that mandates full cooperation with ICE and violating the Constitution,” she wrote.

Writer and Creative Changer Elizabeth Minnich (CC ’09) has a new book out, The Evil of Banality : On the Life and Death Importance of Thinking . In this book, Elizabeth questions the many ordinary people who have been perpetrators of extensive evils such as genocide, human trafficking, and economic exploitation, asking “How could they do it?” She delves into historic, contemporary, national, and international examples, looking at those complicit and those who resist. The book is available on Amazon and Rowman & Littlefield.