Friday, March 29, 2019

Working the system


My heart leaped yesterday as I scrolled through the usual collection of emails awaiting the electronic trashcan. (Does anyone find their email more satisfying than annoying?) Here was one to feel good about.

Since the awful day, 9/11/2001, I've kept myself on the alert list of the Council on American-Islamic Relations because I just want to know what's happening for a community so often under siege. Mostly I glance and dump, perhaps noting the latest mosque vandalism or verbal hate incident. But what I saw yesterday made me glad.

It was an announcement for the "fourth annual Muslim Day at the Capital" in Sacramento. This is one way communities come out of the shadows and take their place in our (small "d") democratic system: they meet the people who make the laws and insist they listen.

But what moved me was the legislative agenda for this year's MDAC. California Muslims intend to campaign for three measures:
  • a bill to restore the right to vote to people on parole for a conviction of a felony.
  • AB 392 which would narrow the circumstance in which is legal for police to shoot someone.
  • and a new requirement that California high schools include a one semester Ethnic Studies course in their curriculum.
In choosing to highlight these bills, this community is placing itself solidly among the coalition of those working for change and more justice for all in the state -- and making friends who can be expected to be there if California Muslims need them -- as they too often do when subjected to ignorance and fear from their neighbors.

This is how the system works when it is working ... that is, it requires patient, repeated, sometimes tedious effort. And sometimes you win.

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