Friday, September 10, 2010

Responding to hate with charity and friendship

Tomorrow will mark the 9th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the attempted attack on the White House.

[Aside: Although focus is almost always on Ground Zero in New York City, I think it is important to remember the people killed in the Petagon but especially in the various planes that were used in the attacks and the one plane that was successfully deterred from its White House destination, leading to the deaths of all on board.]

By now just about everyone knows the name Pastor Terry Jones and his plan to burn hundreds of copies of the Koran tomorrow (if you don't know what I'm talking about, click here for a New York Times article), as well as the waffling and last minute bartering he has been doing, linking the burning as a chip to be used to move Cordoba House--the interfaith and Islamic center that is a few blocks from the former site of the twin towers.

[Second Aside: It is REALLY important to note that it is not a mosque that is being built in lower Manhattan--it is a center that will have meeting spaces for youth groups and interfaith groups and yes a prayer room for Muslims to pray--not so unusual for lower Manhattan, especially since there was a Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor of the south tower--click here for the New York Times article.]

But rather than focus on Jones and the other voices of bigotry and Islamaphobia and hatred, I thought that a more appropriate way to observe the magnitude of our worldwide losses of tomorrow's anniversary is to actually focus on a story of charity and friendship between Christians and Muslims represented by the Heartsong Church and the neighboring Islamic Center in Memphis, TN. Essentially a year ago the pastor of the Heartsong Church, Steve Stone, learned that an Islamic Center would be built right next to the Heartsong Church, so he put up a sign that reads: "Heartsong Church welcomes Memphis Islamic Center to the neighborhood." And because the center wasn't ready in time for Ramadan observances, the leader of the center, Dr. Bashar Shala asked Pastor Stone if they could use Heartsong Church for Muslim prayer services during the month-long Ramadan observance. A true interfaith friendship--and a model for what more groups (and people) should be striving for.

For more from the Huffington Post, click here, and you can also see an interview on Keith Olberman's show with both Dr. Shala and Pastor Stone:

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Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer,

I didn't see a contact form on your blog so I'm writing you here.

I started, a celebration of multiracial Asian identity. The website is a photo blog, awareness project, educational resource, and discussion forum all in one.

Since you're an expert in the field, I would love to hear any feedback you have about the site.

Thanks very much.

hapavoice (at) gmail (dot) com

Jennifer said...

Hi Erica,
Great site--I really like the fact that people can post their own photo and info about themselves, and that there are important resources (like Maria Roots bill of rights, among others).

I'd be happy to put a plug in for your blog, and will likely do so in the weeks to follow (recovering from chemo and prepping for surgery means I don't post as regularly as I like to).

The one thing I would like to do is to offer some pushback on using the word "hapa"--I had a previous post that addressed the provocative/contested nature of this term:

And you can also go to Wei Ming Dariotis and see the work she is doing in Critical Mixed Race studies, which is more of an academic take on mixed race issues and focused more broadly on mixed race rather than mixed Asian/hapa issues:

Anyway, I say this in the spirit of dialogue--not because I think you should change the name of your blog (and certainly you should not change the mission/spirit of it) but when you define Hapa in your blog, you may want to also acknowledge the history of that word as Dr. Dariotis explains in her Hyphen essay and to consider that for indigenous Hawaiians, it is a loaded term.

Good luck with the project!