Muslim educators gathered at Michigan State University this week to share their experiences with
Islamophobia in the classroom, an issue they say is on the rise.
Some of the participants say they now realize one of the best ways to fight Islamophobia is to be as open as possible with coworkers and students about their experiences.
Keynote speaker Debbie Almontaser she says simply telling people what it’s like to be a Muslim has helped her as an educator. She says events like 9/11 and other terror attacks shape the way Muslim educators lead and teach, and that those same educators are just as affected when attacks against Muslims or other anti-Muslim sentiments increase.
She also says Muslims aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a culture of openness.
“The most powerful thing that can possibly happen, not just for American Muslims, but for communities of color that are actually experiencing such adversity,” Almontaser said, “is personal storytelling and really helping our fellow neighbors and allies to connect with us in ways to, you know, feel a sense of social responsibility to stand up and show up.”
One of the goals of the conference was to create more tolerant school systems that allow Muslim educators to embrace diversity and bring their viewpoints to the classroom. There was also a panel on academic freedom in Middle Eastern and South Asian countries, and a panel regarding attacks on Muslim scholarship.