In the spring of 2017 a large group gathered outside the William Kenzo Nakamura United States Courthouse, in Seattle. We were there to publicly stand with American Muslims in opposition to the Muslim Ban. In that moment, at the beginning of the Trump Administration, American Muslims were in need of people to stand with and behind them in public.
Rabbi Yohanna Kinberg spoke briefly, saying that she had been taught “never again!” That never again would genocide go unchallenged in our world, after the unspeakable terrors of the Holocaust.
The Rev. Kelly Brown of Plymouth UCC church in Seattle spoke the long history of racism in this nation, its consequences and how we can create a different society if we work at it.
Tom Ikeda, the Executive director at Densho, spoke of the build up to Japanese Incarceration, the continued impact on Japanese Americans and how the Supreme Court Rulings with regard to Japanese Incarceration continued to harm civil rights.
Alex, an atheist, was there that day, had helped to spread the word about the event, and helped set up the generator and microphones.
I was there, too. On that day it was my role to stand in the group of several hundred people and hold a sign, “I Stand with My Muslim Neighbor.”
On other days, each of these leaders might need allies to stand behind them. But on that day, they stood behind Aneelah Afzali and American Muslims. Since then, these leaders and many, many others have continued to stand with each other, and to stand with others who needed them.
One of the oldest tricks that we fall for is to be divided from one another – to see each other as competitors and rivals over scarce resources. This is a tool used to maintain unjust economies and systems.
But these leaders have consistently shown, over many years now, that they will not be divided on the issue of human rights. They disagree about many things, and even have vigorous debates. But when one of them needs the others, they show up. Their leadership inspires us to also show up, so that when one of us needs allies, we are there for each other.