A celebrated Muslim American activist’s memoir of how she came into her identity as a social justice leader in post–9/11 America.
Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association in New York, grew up between two worlds: her parents’ Palestinian homeland and her native Brooklyn. She embraced both: for the warm ties she formed with relatives and the “brown, Black and beige kids” in a neighborhood that looked “like every nineties portrayal of [Brooklyn] ever seen in a Spike Lee joint.” She attended John Jay High School, a “notorious gang farm,” where she began to see how her life as a Muslim American was “inextricably interwoven” with the lives of all people of color. When 9/11 took place a few years after she graduated, Sarsour witnessed firsthand the way innocent Muslims suddenly became branded as terrorists. She began working with her father’s cousin Basemah, a social justice activist who ran the Arab American Association of New York. The author credits Basemah, who died tragically just four years later, with teaching her to “make waves…stir the pot…raise holy hell” when communities were in trouble. After Basemah’s death, Sarsour became involved in the fight to create a ground zero mosque as well as protests against the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, which targeted people of color. The author later joined forces with fellow activists Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez to work on both local and national social justice projects to end racial profiling. The trio organized the Women’s March on Washington to protest the election of a racist, misogynistic president. Despite these triumphs, Sarsour discovered that her own heightened visibility made her family a target for “an avalanche of hate” while compromising her role as a mother. Candid and poignant, this book offers an intimate portrait of a committed activist while emphasizing the need for more Americans to work against the deep-seated inequalities that still haunt the country.
A powerful memoir from a dedicated fighter for social justice.