We’re in This Together, a guest post by Linda Sarsour
We’re in this together. We really are. All of us. Our young people in particular need to read this. We need to acknowledge their current reality. For many, it may seem that we live in a dark and complicated world. Every day we see attacks on immigrants and refugees, Black and indigenous folks, the poor and working class, women, religious minorities, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities and other marginalized people. We witness very powerful politicians writing and passing laws that strip many of basic rights and block access to critical services they need to thrive. We also know that our planet is in crisis and we must save it before it is too late.
The problems seem so enormous, and they are, but I believe in our potential to come together to find solutions, organize and build the solidarity and power we need to overcome these challenges. You may have heard the word solidarity before but I want to define it through my own perspective and the way I understand it and live it. Solidarity is a verb. It requires and calls us to action. Solidarity is when we find common values that connect us. It also means that we find common struggles and we work to address them together. Solidarity means that I cannot fight for my own rights without fighting for yours too. Solidarity means we are willing to protect one another. This is the solidarity that I practice in my work and what I hope people will commit to after reading my book, “We’re In This Together.”
I started as an activist over 20 years ago after the horrific attacks of 9/11 in New York City where I was born and raised. It was a tragic event that took the lives of thousands of my fellow New Yorkers. I was angry and sad. It is also when I became an activist. Unfortunately, after this devastating attack, and once some found out that the terrorists were Muslim they began blaming the communities I come from. Some politicians, leaders and every day people painted my entire Muslim community with a broad brush. Hate crimes against Muslims skyrocketed. Bullying in schools against Muslim students was at an all time high. Law enforcement agents targeted Muslim men and boys. I couldn’t believe it. My community had nothing to do with these attacks. They were mourning these losses too. They were just as angry and saddened as everyone else. They did not deserve this treatment.
That’s where I came in. I began to speak up for my community. As a Palestinian Muslim American woman, I vowed to defend the rights of Muslims to live safely and freely in this country. But I quickly realized that I could not only fight for my people, that my fight had to include all marginalized people. Unless all people in America are safe and free, my community is not going to be safe and free. I have dedicated the last two decades of my life fighting for civil and human rights. I have organized major protests and events to raise awareness about issues I care deeply about. I have helped pass important laws and helped elect progressive candidates who can fight for us inside halls of power in the way we deserve. I decided that for the rest of my life, I will fight for what I believe in. I was going to be the change I wanted to see.
You can be the change you want to see too. You can start small. You can educate fellow librarians, students and friends about issues that you care about. You can create presentations. You can read books and gain more knowledge about other communities and their struggles. You can advocate that your local library bring more books written by diverse voices representing marginalized people. You can create conversations and dialogue centering the voices of people who are directly impacted. You can attend protests and rallies so you can be amongst others who care about the same issues. You can write to your local politicians and raise issues and concerns and propose solutions. You can remind your family members to vote in the next election. Most importantly, you can show solidarity, kindness and compassion to others in your community and stand up to people who may say derogatory things to others. I know many young people are still thinking about what they want to do when they finish their higher education and as they ponder on this important decision, I always leave them with this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that he gave on April 18th, 1959 at the March for Integrated Schools, “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
Meet the author
Linda Sarsour is a Brooklyn-born Palestinian Muslim American community organizer and mother of three. Recognized for her award-winning intersectional work, she served as national cochair of the Women’s March, helping to organize the largest single-day protest in US history. She is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and cofounder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, as well as Until Freedom, a national racial justice organization working with Black and Brown communities across the country.
About We’re in This Together: A Young Readers Edition of We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders
An inspiring and empowering young readers edition of We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, the memoir by Women’s March coorganizer and activist Linda Sarsour.
You can count on me, your Palestinian Muslim sister, to keep her voice loud, keep her feet on the streets, and keep my head held high because I am not afraid.
On January 17, 2017, Linda Sarsour stood in the National Mall to deliver a speech that would go down in history. A crowd of over 470,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to advocate for legislation, policy, and the protection of women’s rights—with Linda, a Muslim American activist from Brooklyn, leading the charge, unapologetic and unafraid.
In this middle grade edition of We Are Not Here to be Bystanders, Linda shares the memories that shaped her into the activist she is today, and how these pivotal moments in her life led her to being an organizer in one of the largest single-day protests in US history. From the Brooklyn bodega her father owned to the streets of Washington, DC, Linda’s story as a daughter of Palestinian immigrants is a moving portrayal of what it means to find your voice in your youth and use it for the good of others as an adult.
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 11/29/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Guest Post
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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