To Exist is to Resist

ACT for America, arguably the largest grassroots anti-Muslim hate group in the country, is hosting rallies this weekend in a number of cities throughout the country. It is no secret that they hope to illicit a response from our community.

Dear ACT: the hatred you espouse and violence you encourage will not be accepted in New York City. This is our New York and your racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are antithetical to our city. Violence breeds violence, and we must be vigilant against all kinds of terror, from London to Portland.

We are American. We are Muslim. We will not be bullied into hiding.

This is our country and we will continue to not only exist, but resist.

We have felt a palpable increase in discrimination, direct hostility and hate towards our community. We have a sitting President who publicly aligns himself with white supremacist groups like ACT and has used his power to develop discriminatory executive orders against Muslims.

At times, our very existence as Latina, Black, Arab, and South Asian Muslim women of color feels revolutionary. While ACT embodies white supremacist views, these very views are unfortunately not fringe. Trump’s rhetoric has emboldened extremist groups and individuals and thus created an environment ripe for not only hate but also violence. But still, we exist.

As Muslim women, Islamophobia has become a normal part of our lived experiences, on the train, in the streets, in our schools, and in public places. We have been bullied from young ages, called “terrorist” and “rag head” carelessly and frequently. Whether we were born into Islam or converted to it, we have all experienced discrimination not only from strangers, but also in our own communities. But still, we exist.

Our identities are overlapping and intersectional: we are not a monolith.

We are Arab and South Asian Muslims and after September 11th, we were never seen the same way. For some of us, this culture of discrimination and violence did not start after September 11, but rather only escalated. We are Black and Muslim, terrorized during Jim Crow America, by racist policies furthered by our police state and by various other forms of institutional oppression. We are Latina and Muslim, and our community is being criminalized. We are now living in a world where we are profiled not only because of our color, but also because of our religion. But still, we exist.

We are not alone and have the love and support of true Americans. This Ramadan has been one in which these very allies have formed human circles around us while we pray in congregation. We will continue to reclaim our cities and spaces until they are free of the hatred and vitriol spewed by the likes of ACT and our very own President.

We will host our counter rally to drown out hatred with love. We will conquer contempt with kindness.

We will exist and resist, today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter.

Muzna Ansari, Immigration Policy Manager, New York Immigration Coalition

Hebh Jamal, Student activist

Sussie Lozada, NY/NJ Political Director & Community Organizer, Unite Here, Local 100

Fatoumata Waggeh, Civic Organizer, African Communities Together

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