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Marissa Lingen

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In a good cause: going on [Nov. 20th, 2016|09:22 am]
Marissa Lingen

I said I was going to make a post about charities each week until the election. And look, the election is over! I took a week to think about it, but I don’t really feel like stopping right now. I don’t really feel like now is a time when I feel less like promoting good causes to which you can donate time and money. So I’m going to keep going with weekly charity posts, because that’s the world we’re living in right now.

(You know what? These charities would still have been a good idea if Hillary Clinton had been elected. There is so much more that needs doing in the world than we will ever get done in one lifetime, even if each of us makes exquisite choices every single day from here on out. When you are disappointed, when you are elated: the work of the world will still need doing.)

So let’s talk about civil rights for Muslims in this country.The biggest Muslim civil liberties group, the one you’ve probably already heard of, is CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They need non-Muslim support in addition to Muslim support right right now–they have for years. (Other groups are increasingly vulnerable, too. By all means recommend charities in case I don’t have your favorite one lined up for another week. Additional positive groups are always, always welcome in the comments.)

If you prefer to keep your charity work closer to home, keep in mind that your local Muslim cultural centers may be facing various problems in times when the US’s treatment of its Muslim citizens and residents is in the news. In Minneapolis area, there is, for example, the Islamic Center of Minnesota, which provides all sorts of community services (listed on webpage) for local Muslims. This sort of group providing a food shelf and burial services is exactly the sort that get targeted when racists decide they want to do bad things. If you’re able-bodied and able to help with counter-demonstrations, clean-up, etc., find the cultural centers in your area and keep them in mind when you read the news. Inter-faith (or interfaced faith-with-lack-of-faith, why not!) outreach shows that we believe in civil rights for everyone, that we cannot be divided so easily.

Here’s how broken our culture is: when I went to google “Minneapolis Muslim cultural center,” Google tried to autocomplete, “Minneapolis Muslim problems.” And for some reason they didn’t seem to think that “getting kid good ice time” and “finding halal Swedish meatballs” were the Minneapolis Muslim problems in question. Some people would like you to think that Minneapolis is a war zone, with our Somali neighbors trying to force their religion on the rest of us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. That’s fear and ignorance talking, not fact. It’s all very well to say “if there’s a registry for Muslims, I’ll register too!”, but if it’s an immigrant registry, that’s not going to help. CAIR and your local Muslim institutions almost certainly have some very concrete ideas about what will help. We’re all in this together. We always have been.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


From: swan_tower
2016-11-20 06:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been reaching out to local Islamic centers and the mosque in town to see if there's any useful volunteer work I can do. As much as I'd like to think I don't live in a place where the local mosque would need clean-up . . . well, we'll see what they say.
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[User Picture]From: whswhs
2016-11-21 05:58 am (UTC)
This year I've googled for a lot of establishments of different types, and found that the optimal format is "" and possibly "" if the city has a commonplace name. Entering "muslim cultural center riverside ca" didn't get the autocomplete that concerned you, and got me a few actual Muslim organizations, including the one that's just a few blocks from where I live.

Not to say those associations aren't there, but they seem to depend on the order you type the words in. In fact they seem to vary with the city; for example, the first completion of "los angeles muslim" is "prayer in street." So I think maybe this is not an American cultural universal but an accident of what stories have been in the news in a particular city.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2016-11-21 01:38 pm (UTC)
You know, having tricks for how to make autocomplete not autocomplete with common searches does not actually change the fact that they are common searches or that they autocomplete that way. And the search results give you not only what is "in the news" but also what is on opinion blogs. In this case that's very important. Because if there aren't particularly a lot of problems from our largely Somali neighbors in the Minneapolis area Muslim community but a lot of people who write opinion pieces and blog posts want you to think there are, because they want to think that the real problem is that our neighbors exist, there will still be a lot of hits.

Minneapolis is a focal point on this topic from people who do not live here because we're known to have a large, recent Muslim immigrant population. Ascribing that to news is dangerous. It gives the sense that there must be problems reported, when in fact most of the hits on that autocomplete are problems hypothesized--in plain English, made up.
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[User Picture]From: cissa
2016-12-06 02:48 am (UTC)
I am happy to have grown up in the Twin Cities, and miss it even after these 35 years.

The Somali stuff reminds me a lot of the brou-ha-ha about the Hmong immigrants lo these many years ago... but in general, they were welcomed, and pretty smoothly integrated into the norm, and to that extent, I am proud of Minnesota. I'd move back in a heartbeat if it were not too damn cold!
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