Here We Stand Against Hate
Not in my town...
Recently anti-Islamic hateful graffiti was spray painted on the walls and sidewalks of the Muslim Mosque here in Moorhead, Minnesota. As pictures and stories were told on social media, shockwaves echoed through our town. People of many faith backgrounds gathered to show support, help clean up, and say this is not okay.
I was heartened by the outpouring of compassion and action from the hundreds of volunteers, but I was bothered by what I heard over and over again - “I can’t believe this happened in our town.” It is important that we stop living in denial of the hatred and fear that our muslim and dark skin neighbors experience everyday.
The muslim community was not surprised that this happened in “our town” because muslims and black and brown skinned people experience alienation and rejection every day. Every day, doing ordinary things, shopping, running, eating at restaurants, riding the school bus, crossing the street, applying for loans and on and on and on, rejection, fear, microaggressions, blatant discrimination, and hostility are experienced in ways that white skinned humans don’t have to face.
The blatant nature of the graffiti at the Mosque in Moorhead was a call to action in our community. I hope we don’t have to wait for more obvious oppressive behavior to act again. We hold ourselves back because quite honestly, we don’t know what to do.
The days following the aggressive hateful graffiti, more people showed up than tasks to be done. As we gathered, church leaders and community members began meeting the Mosque leaders and members for the first time. It was these casual conversations that began teaching us what it looks like to actually know our neighbors. Learning names and hearing stories, offering to help, and being asked to learn all led to a deeper understanding and greater respect.
Old Lutheran is on a journey in this 500th year since Martin Luther said Here I Stand. Here WE Stand is the message that we are wrestling with and growing into. We are learning what it means to stand with and to learn from so that we can be better neighbors. In the coming weeks, we challenge you to expand your relationships so that you might better understand those who you perceive are different from you.
It’s time to move from cliche to action. If you want your life to make a difference, then you have to make a difference. If you say you love your neighbor, you have to love your neighbor. Now is the time to actually start loving your neighbor. We can no longer say “not in my town” because the truth is, discriminatory and aggressive behaviors happen everywhere.
In my town, in your town, and quite frankly in every town.