In the decades since the 1960s civil rights movement, we’ve learned and relearned the lesson that we can only bend the arc of justice by joining forces. Intersectionality is a common refrain, and what it really means is that we’re in the shared struggle for justice together.
For Muslim Advocates, that means partnering with diverse organizations including faith groups—Jewish, Christian, Sikh—as well as civil liberties, civil rights, and LGBT rights organizations like the ACLU, United We Dream, Million Hoodies for Justice, the Center for Constitutional Rights, NAACP, ColorOfChange.org, Human Rights Campaign, and National LGBTQ Task Force.
The new identities and partners in social change include Sikh, LGBT, Arab, South Asian, and Latino groups—communities that may not have been organized or did not have a significant presence in the 1960s. As America becomes more diverse, the movement for civil rights in the 21st century must also grow and reflect our country. What remains the same is that we must look for opportunities to help one another and support those who have supported us.
It’s why we became the first American Muslim organization to support federal legislation to protect LGBT people against employment discrimination. When outrage at unchecked police violence against African Americans hit a tipping point with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, we joined with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and others to call on Congress to enact criminal justice reform.
We also called on then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to fulfill his commitment to revise and strengthen federal guidelines to ban racial and religious profiling by law enforcement. We know that profiling against American Muslims will end only when profiling of all Americans ends.
We have also partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to prevent hate crimes. We understand that the forces of intolerance direct their hate and violence at Jewish people as well as at Muslims.
Our allies have been there for us as well. We were horror-struck by the brutal murders of Deah Shaddy Barakat, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, earlier this year. Within 48 hours after the attacks, 149 organizations representing diverse faith, racial, ethnic, and civil rights communities agreed to join our request to the U.S. Department of Justice to open a federal hate crimes investigation.
For communities facing discrimination, persecution or violence—and many are—the arc of justice does not bend fast enough. The answer, for Muslim Advocates, is to constantly search for ways to build coalitions and broader movements that bend the arc while seeking out long-term major victories that hasten progress.
We cannot go it alone and succeed. Put simply, we are stronger together.