by John Robbins
In the weeks since the election, the American Muslim community has seen a massive outpouring of support. As a community advocate, I’ve personally received hundreds of e-mails and calls from people asking how they can help, and letting me know that they’re with us and will do everything that they can to aid us during this time. People across the political, religious and political spectrums have reached out to their Muslim neighbors like never before and have offered to aid us in any way needed.
But the tone, the tenor, of these messages of support concerns me.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m extremely moved and grateful for this outpouring. But in the rush of people lining up to help the American Muslim community, many are motivated by an urge to protect those who are weaker, those who can’t help themselves.
Right now, Muslims in America are pitied. And an object of pity is not respected, valued or recognized as having strength.
Too often, the giver of aid is positioned above the receiver, so that the movement of anything of value is purely a one-directional interchange between those who have and those who don’t. When we accept this support (and I’m not saying we shouldn’t), it reinforces the idea that Muslims are in need, and that the wider—usually white—community has something to offer, but doesn’t need anything in return.