Last year, activists in North Carolina piloted an innovative training program to counter Islamophobia. BORDC/DDF’s George Friday and Manzoor Cheema, an organizer with the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, worked with veteran anti-oppression trainers Tema Okun, and Jade Brooks to develop a workshop to help people recognize and counter Islamophobia in themselves, their communities, their movements, and in government policies and programs.
On July 21, George and Manzoor took the workshop to Chicago, and trained 35 people to become Countering Islamophobia workshop leaders.
Gathering together at Grace Place in downtown Chicago, George Friday, Manzoor Cheema and Center for New Community’s Kalia Abiade worked with a diverse groups of young and not-so-young people including quite a few middle and high school students, many from Muslim, South Asian, Arab and LGBTQ communities.
The training was 6 hours long on a difficult issue, but the participants said they felt energized and inspired at the end, not drained or defeated. “The intersectionality of the training was really appreciated,” George Friday said. The training relies on an understanding that there is no hierarchy of oppression, which was embraced by the group.
The participants enthusiastically tackled the real world scenarios of how Islamophobia manifests itself in the U.S. today, including Countering Violent Extremism programs, and speakers who crisscross the country promoting hate and fear of Muslims. They are each committed to bringing the workshop to their communities and schools in the coming months, to protect rights, build resilience and counter the rampant Islamophobia gripping our country.