A guest blog post by Maryam Abdul-Kareem, former RTF consultant
On September 8, the Justice for Muslims Collective (JMC), a current RTF grantee, hosted their Community Wellness and Defense Summit. The Summit was created for those impacted by Islamophobia and focused on building collective power through community. This event was the first of JMC’s Community Health, Wellness and Healing Workshop series. As part of the series, JMC partnered with MALIKAH and Heart Women & Girls to organize a holistic approach to community wellness, health and defense.
The summit provided tips and tools to increase one’s daily mental and physical wellness and health, especially in the face of trauma. The itinerary included an exploration of how explored how crucial it is for community members to find culturally competent therapists or counselors. Finding professionals who are able to take into account the oppressive systems in which many of us live and the ways in which that also presents somatically is important in one’s health and wellness efforts.
During the Summit, participants were able to gain Know Your Rights information about reporting incidents of police brutality and ICE raids as well as learn practical self-defense techniques as a means of protecting themselves and others. The summit speakers, Darakshan Raja, Azza Altiraifi, Dr. Maha Hilal and Kristin Garrity Sekerci also explored movement building, Islamophobia, and what wellness and health look like in different communities.
The panelists uplifted the importance of centering those who are most impacted by oppressive systems and institutions in social justice work. This must include the disability justice and racial equity lens in Muslim, Arab and South Asian social justice work. In every space, the following questions must be asked: What communities are consistently represented? What communities are consistently not represented, though their rights are violated constantly? Who is being spoken about instead of given the platform to speak for themselves?
The Summit reaffirmed that communities impacted by Islamophobia are layered and diverse and that they have needs beyond national security issues.