As an Asian-American activist, I must constantly negotiate what it means to be a woman faith leader – all while challenging misconceptions of the “model minority myth” and the “otherization” of my identity in a dominant culture that often sees anything other than whiteness as foreign, exotic, or suspect. And yet, I know that my experiences do not pale in comparison to the hardships of those experienced within the greater sisterhood.
When Laila Alawa woke up on a recent morning, her phone wouldn’t stop pinging with Twitter notifications.
“You’re not American, you’re a terrorist sympathizer immigrant that nobody in America wants and for good reason,” one user tweeted.
It wasn’t until recently, with the advent of modern capitalism, that people have retreated to the private sphere. This means we now believe that people can live secluded lives, only interacting with our most intimate connections — whether that be our nuclear family, romantic partner, or just with a pet. Hannah Arendt, another philosopher, offers a similar critique on people's retreat from the community and into the private sphere, naming it as a byproduct of capitalism.
I keep finding myself repeating “it’s 2016” to my friends and family, on social media, and in my head. We read about all these things in history books that actually didn’t even happen that long ago like women “winning” the right to vote, schools being desegregated, or the first president of the United States having some melanin.
"Look, say what you will about Christianity, but the Bible teaches little girls that they can grow up to drive spikes into the heads of Canaanite generals, and there’s huge value in that. Cause there’s sometimes that really goofy straightforward talk about what you can do, or not, “because the Bible and women.” And I really like kind of playing with that and going “Fine, then the lesson I got from this is that you can drive spikes in people’s heads.”
I don’t remember who it was now who wrote this, but I loved how someone talked about how, for an hour and a half, the entire church was Mary Magdalene. In between when she goes to the tomb and has to go find the disciples, she is the entire church. And I love that. I love that for an hour and a half, a woman was the church."
Burkinis aren’t showing up at the beaches on either side of the English Channel yet, but the thought that the full head-to-ankle swimsuit might catch on among Muslim women in Europe has already sparked lively debates in Britain and France.
I think there is a very real need for us to grapple with an idolatry of justice. As technology affords us both an instantaneous and relentless awareness of myriad justice causes, and the often-illusory perception of our capability to effect change, it becomes very easy to puff up our justice egos and enlarge our savior complex. Pragmatism and good ol’ work ethic drives us to advance our movements by documenting success, hitting program goals, and mining visible storytelling of dramatic life changes of the people we rescue.