Friday, November 18, 2016

Letter of support to Muslim teens

In the week since the election, a Facebook group has formed of over 100,000 American lawyers dedicated to fighting the backward, hateful, uneducated policies of Donald Trump. (Want to help working class people? Fine. Want to create a Muslim registry, appoint a white supremacist, discriminate against minorities, or kill the environment? We will fight you.)

During this planning phase of the group, there has been more strategizing than action. But one lawyer posted a request for letters of support to Muslim teens he works with at a community center. I can do that, I thought.

After I sent him the letter, I thought I'd post it here for all to read, because really it applies to all of the minorities that white nationalists are attacking. 

Without further ado...

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November 18, 2016

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,

A bunch of American lawyers – about 100,000 of us, in fact – have banded together on Facebook to strategize about recent events, and to prepare for future struggles. One of them posted to request letters of support for Muslim teens at a community center, so I am writing to you today.

The first thing I want to say is that I am sorry. I am so, so sorry for the message that some Americans have sent you this month and in recent years. I am a young(ish), educated, well-traveled professional living in a blue state in one of the bluest cities of America, so I don’t fully understand what is going outside of my bubble. But I am sorry that it has happened. 

My explanation is unlikely to give comfort to you at this time. I think humans fear the unfamiliar, and they love easy, black-and-white explanations. Those two aspects of human nature can be overcome if you have an open heart, if you feel safe, and if you are able to see the gray areas of the world. Too many Americans right now are uneducated, not well traveled, too fearful, and increasingly desperate for an improvement in their situations. They have been fed fear for years, and so they were able to swallow the message of hate.

The ultimate results of the election, however, have produced plenty that’s worth keeping hope alive for. The type of people I just described are the minority. America is becoming more educated and more diverse. Most American voters didn’t vote for Donald Trump – and now more and more of us have been awakened into political action the likes of which America has not seen since the 1960s. The 100,000+ lawyer group I mentioned earlier is one example, and an influx of donations to nonprofit groups is another. Americans are waking up, and we are fighting.

Remember with pride that you make America great simply by your presence. Thank you for being here, and thank you for fighting with us. I will defend your rights as fiercely as I can. I will protest nonviolently, I will write, I will call, I will march, and the haters will have to literally kill me before I allow one minority group to be oppressed. I am lucky to count LGBT folks, brown folks, and religions of all stripes among my family, friends, and coworkers, and I will fight for you all.

I am including my email below in case you want to write back. I am really, truly interested in what you have to say.

With all the love in the world,

Valerie Sherman
DePaul Law ‘09
Chicago, IL
[email obviously redacted, but feel free to post in comments]

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