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How to ally with American Muslims
Lesson: Every one of us has the power to educate thousands through the “power of the pen!”
It was a delight to present a workshop on “How to Ally with American Muslims” with my good friend, Spokane Interfaith Council President Skyler Oberst.
We distributed copies of a Gallup Poll on American Muslims and informative messaging to use (not to be confused with another great document on talking about American Muslims). By the time we started, we had over 40 attendees!
Skyler showed a great video about Spokane-area Muslims. Then, audience members shared their experiences getting to know local Muslims and visiting the Spokane Islamic Center, which welcomes visitors, especially at congregational prayers at 12:30pm every Friday.
We then mentioned the need for voices of allies to be heard by the masses. Each of us has the power to educate thousands, simply by investing a few minutes to e-mail letters to editors using messages in the documents we distributed (linked above).
A study by Media Tenor of primetime news found that Islam is featured more than any other religion, and the coverage is overwhelmingly negative. Research by University of Hawaii, University of Exeter & National Hispanic Media Coalition indicate that media content can have a direct effect on hate and prejudice. Accurate language can inform readers, while loaded language misleads readers and fuels prejudice. We mentioned that even if a letter is not published, it will motivate editors to use realistic portrayals of Islam and Muslims. Many attendees left motivated to use “the power of the pen,” which we all hold!
Truth in Recruitment and Militarism Awareness Workshop
During the annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference; Jessica and Monce held a workshop about Truth in Recruitment and Militarism Awareness. The objectives of this workshop were too identify a shared definition of militarism and its impacts around the world, identify ways to talk about Truth in Recruitment with high school students and identify ways that the community can get involve with PJALS’ work on this topics. The audience consisted of twelve people in which the majority were Veterans and educators. With the help of George Taylor from Veterans for Peace Spokane the facilitators gave information on the targeted populations for enlistees, lies that recruiters tell, statistics on life after the military. The audience were engage at all time; participating in the group discussions and asking questions. The most important thing that I take from this workshop was the information given by the audience as a facilitator it was powerful to see that this group of people seek peace and unity.
Love and Outrage Workshop
I didn’t know what to expect when hosting an anti-racist workshop, specifically for white people, this past weekend at the PJALS conference. Defensiveness, denial, sadness, anger, rejection, embrace, connection, growth: all were possibilities in my mind. What I hadn’t expected was the popularity of the topic. I was unprepared to offer it to over 40 people! I’m very hopeful that this many people were interested in the topic, especially when offered side by side with many other fascinating and useful workshop sessions. I was grateful for the opportunity to gauge where one sliver of my community is at in their learning on this topic and for the clarity that I now have, I plan on designing more tightly focused workshops to offer over the next year. There’s so much to explore from understanding white privilege and the fragility that stems from it to analyzing our role as anti-racist white folks in the movement; I am thrilled to dive into further study and sharing with the PJALS community and beyond. We have much to gain in dismantling white supremacy, in building genuine cross-cultural relationships, in self-reflection. That’s what I was reminded through gathering this weekend and hearing where others interests, questions, and energy are focused.
Challenging Oppressive Statements
As in previous years’ “Challenging Oppressive Statements” workshops, I found that most of the people attending this workshop find it frustrating when exposed to a statement they feel is oppressive to others. They usually express a desire to have some helpful tools to express their feelings about derogatory or abusive statements that others make when they hear them. The problem is that unless we have learned and practiced ways of expressing our concerns about behaviors like that, we have a tendency to escalate the violent behavior or just go away feeling frustrated.
The people attending this workshop were given some examples of how to think about the behavior in a way that may be helpful to decompress the frustration and speak out in a way that can be helpful to themselves, and to people who make insensitive, or abusive, generalized statements about others, often without realizing the harm they may be causing.
With a little guidance and encouragement given in the workshop, a little practice in small group sessions, and a handout they can use to construct further thought and practice for effective responses, I am hopeful the people attending this workshop went away with some feeling of empowerment to deal with these kinds of difficult encounters in their futures.
2016 Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference
Register now for our 7th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference on February 26-27, 2016 Once again we will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4340 W. Ft. George Wright Dr., Spokane, WA.
Wisdom and Wishes from the Action Conference Youth Panel
At our Action Conference in March, PJALS Steering Committee member and YALP grad Taylor Weech moderated a panel with three young activists: Charlie Johansen is a Cheney High School student who graduated from our Young Activist Leaders Program last year. Jaclyn Acher is an EWU student. Emanuel Flores is a member of Young Emerging Labor Leaders. Here are some excerpts from the conversation from my notes! — Liz
What is your vision you’re working toward?
Equity and strong communities. ~ Charlie Johansen.
Cultural awareness and not living in ideological monoculture – Jaclyn Archer.
Everyone should be able to go to work and be paid fairly and not bullied – Emanuel Flores.
What do you need from older activists? What do you not need?
I need your wisdom …not your cynicism. ~ Charlie.
I need scaffolding and practical support, help with organizing. I don’t need to be told what my generation needs. ~ Jaclyn.
I need understanding. I’m young and I have an opinion. Give me the opportunity to learn. ~ Manny
What gives you hope? What is most disheartening to you?
Community is essential. The most disheartening thing is futility and the systems that are in place and the disproportionate amount of power some people have. – Charlie
When regular folks have that aha moment and realize if they don’t get active, nothing good is going to happen. The most demobilizing thing is cynicism. Can’t stand it. — Judith
What I find disempowering is calls to revolution without practical follow-up. The empowering thing is: Together we will continue. We are not alone, and the persistence is continuing. — Jaclyn
The most disheartening thing for me is being told, “You failed.” What helps me is addressing my elders and getting a rub on the back. Mistakes are how you learn. — Manny Read more »
Our 6th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference
Our 6th Annual Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference
by Teresa Kinder, intern
March is bringing with it this year’s Action Conference that has become the largest gathering of over 200 progressive thinks from across Washington and neighboring states. This year we will be hosting 24 fabulous workshops on a broad range of issues focusing on education, action, and skill building.
Conference goers tell us the Conference provides a “great variety of programs and the opportunity to meet new people!” Another reported, “I met amazing people the mingle times were so productive and interesting. The energy at the conference and the reception was amazing. Wow! It is hard to feel hopeless about America’s current state when getting together to make a change like this.”
This year come and learn how you can build creative and effective actions in Eric Ross’s ‘Escalation of Creative Nonviolent Direct Action Tactics’ workshop. Also learn how to effectively talk to your legislators with Gloria Ochoa, Blaine Stum, Lori Kinnear, and Shar Lichty.
The Conference will feature workshops focusing locally and internationally. Join David Brookbank and Jan Treecraft in ‘Nicaragua: Cristiana, Socialista y Solidaria.’ Or, travel with Mary Rupert and Larry Shook in ‘Journey to Afghanistan and Back with a Young Soldier.’
Join us March 20th for the reception before the conference for a great evening of socializing. Then come on Saturday March 21, for the Peace and Economic Justice Action Conference. For full details and to register go to http://pjals.org/2015conference. Let your voice be heard.
Meet Our Action Conference Keynote–Judith LeBlanc
Meet Our Action Conference Keynote
By Shar Lichty
We are thrilled to have Judith LeBlanc, Senor Organizer with Alliance for a Just Society as our Keynote Speaker at this year’s Peace & Economic Justice Action Conference. Check out our fantastic list of workshops and register now to enjoy early bird rates at pjals.org/2015conference.
Judith is currently organizing a project to create a national Native leadership network to provide support for strategic planning and capacity building trainings in Indian Country.
She was the Field Director for Peace Action, a national grassroots organization representing 90,000 members committed to a fundamental change in U.S. foreign policy. She coordinated the Move the Money Campaign, an effort to organize grassroots coalitions of community, labor and peace groups to change national spending priorities from wars and weapons to fund jobs and public services as one of the steps towards a “new economy” that works for all.
She has worked on a national level for over 30 years on campaigns ranging from labor rights, racial justice to peace, and disarmament campaigns. She served two terms as a national co-chair of United for Peace and Justice, the national coalition that organized the movement to oppose the 2nd war in Iraq. In 2014 she received the National Priorities Project’s Democracy Champions Award.
Judith is a member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma. She lives in Harlem, New York.