Stop profiling Muslims: How you can take action with your children
As a White, Jewish family, we are inspired by the Jewish tradition to mark your doorposts with a mezuzah (a piece of parchment containing verses of Torah in a decorative case) by marking our home also with the core commitments we hold for our community and family. That’s why for over a year we have had a sign in our window that reads “Stop Profiling Muslims” right beside another sign that reads “Black Lives Matter.” The signs appear right beside our door, on which is a beautiful mezuzah.
As my almost four-year-old Lena has gotten older she has asked more and more questions: “What does it mean to be Jewish?”, “How can we tell who is Muslim?” and “What are things that people of other religions do that we don’t do?” And of course she asks about the signs in our window.
We have books featuring Muslim women in hijab like The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq and The Boy and the Wall and Lena gets excited when we are out in the world and see a woman with a headscarf. We talk about why it is important for us to say clearly that we stand with our Muslim and Black neighbors, and let people who come to our house or walk by our house know who we are and what we stand for. Since Trump has gotten elected I have taken to wearing a shirt that reads “Stop Profiling Muslims” almost every day. I got one for her too which she likes to wear—mostly so we can be “matchy-matchy.”
This past weekend I wore the “Stop Profiling Muslims” shirt to the playground. Shortly after we got there, I was approached by a Black Muslim woman thanked me for wearing the shirt (this happens a lot—wearing this shirt is a really easy way to show solidarity and resist Islamophobia—click here to purchase a “Stop Profiling Muslims” shirt).
Lena picks up everything, so of course she heard us talking about my shirt—she can’t read but she knows what it says—and she probably assumed the woman was Muslim from her hijab. Lena turned to the woman and told her:
The woman then turned to me and said, “You guys get the same crap we do, we have to stick together.”
“We sure do,” I responded.
Then Lena needed to be pushed on the swing and we parted ways.
On the way home I asked Lena what she thought about that interaction with the woman about my t-shirt. I couldn’t get much out of her about it—but I know she heard it. She saw that it mattered to that woman and that it mattered to me.
When we got home, she asked me if she could put on her “Stop Profiling Muslims” shirt, too.
Rabbi Alissa Wise is a deputy director at Jewish Voice for Peace. She lives in Philadelphia and is mama to Lena, 4, and stepmom to Micah, 6.