Co-chair of women’s march on Washington Linda Sarsour talks resisting the age of Trump

By Alvin Buyinza

Kate Mitchell/Collegian

Linda Sarsour spoke about the importance of organizing and resistance against systems of oppression against women and people at a lecture in Mahar Auditorium on April 28.

Sarsour is a Palestinian Muslim-American civil-rights activist and was co-chair of the women’s march on Washington.

She began the lecture by recalling the night of the 2016 election, how her 17-year-old son had called her asking about the results.

She then described how she had felt hurt and betrayed; she asked herself how the acts of racism, sexism, xenophobia and islamophobia were not enough to make Donald Trump lose the election.

The next day, Sarsour then went to Facebook to find a page dedicated to planning a march on women’s rights and commented asking if Muslim women could participate as well. Two days later Sarsour was receiving messages from women all over reaching out for her support.

When talking about the women’s march, Sarsour described it as an intersectional conversation amongst women.

“We have to be able to have these intersectional conversations, and it was women of color who helped cultivate those types of discussions,” she said.

Sarsour explained that the conversations aren’t always easy, but are necessary.

“We should love each other enough to want to teach one another, for us to have a conversation to bring us closer together, and being uncomfortable is okay,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour spoke on the unity of the organizers in the women’s march, admitting that at times they did not agree about absolutely everything. However, sharing similar stories and ideas and believing one another is what kept them together.

To Sarsour, the women’s march was not an anti-Trump protest.

She recalled the day she visited the Holocaust Museum and read a sign on the early warning signs of fascism, which included: corporate partners protected sexism, nationalism and fraud elections.

Sarsour related this to the recent actions taken by the Trump administration such as the travel ban and defunding of the EPA and arts, saying that we may in fact have fascism in the White House already.

“I think if anyone knows what fascism is, I’ll take it from those who are the survivors of the Holocaust and those who have documented one of the darkest moments of history,” she said.

Sarsour talked about how she has been referred to as “anti-American,” to which she responds, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

She spoke about the importance of discussing America’s horrid past and how we must remind ourselves of this in order to not repeat the same mistakes, specifically referring to the Japanese internment camps.

She in specific talked about the Japanese internment camps and how we as a country allowed such atrocity to happen. Sarsour talked about the coordinated propaganda campaign against Japanese people.

She compared it to the current day treatment of Muslim-Americans and in order to fight this treatment, Sarsour explained that we need to be informed about oppression.

“I will not be part of a generation where 70 years from now a college student will ask, ‘What the hell were you doing when they banned Muslims?’”

In terms of personal beliefs, Sarsour said herself that she does these talks for other people to respect views just like she respects theirs.

She believes that as a Muslim woman she should be allowed to practice her faith in a way she sees fit, as long as it does not impose on other people’s way of life.

“As long as what I do does not impact people there should be no legislation that limits my right as a Muslim to practice my religion freely,” Sarsour said.

Sarsour also had some criticism for the liberal progressives. She questioned why those who are fueled with hate are usually louder and use more resources. Sarsour feels “out organized” compared to these people.

Sarsour gave five pieces of advice for the youth of the resistance. First was to be informed about the social climate of the country and to be cautious of news.

Second was to know your neighbor. She said this is important in creating ally-ship and fighting to create sanctuaries for marginalized people.

Third was to listen to others even if you disagree with one another.

“At times we might feel offended, sometimes we are speaking of a place of trauma and pain,” she said.

The fourth piece of advice was to show up to protests and events.

“When we hear that there is a rally where a Mexican mother is going to be taken away from her children, show up,” Sarsour said.

Lastly, Sarsour said to donate to local organizations to fight against injustices. She stressed the importance of helping people who are ready to fight for the rights of other Americans.

Sarsour told of a daily ritual she has maintained since the 2016 election, which is to repeat every night and day, “this is not normal.”

“I will not ever allow anyone to normalize what has happened around me,” she said.

Morjane Hmaidi, a sophomore biochemistry major asked Sarsour, “How do we get more Muslims to become more active?”

Sarsour responded explaining that it is not the job of the Muslim community to be active in the fight against Islamophobia and that allies need to step up and protect the Muslim community.

“We need allies to create more safe spaces and barriers for the Muslim community,” she said.

“I personally really liked her and it was super moving and super motivating.” said Sana Gilani, a sophomore electrical engineering major. “Sometimes you know there are a lot of issues happening…it helped me get a wake-up call for what I should be doing.,”

Junior communication disorders major Neaama Bourote said, “I think it’s so amazing to have someone so visible and representative that looks like me and talks about all the things that I am thinking in my head and has a platform that may not be used to hearing her ideologies.”

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abuyinza_news.