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Say No to Hate: Ruwa Romman

We believe that one of the most significant problems facing Americans today is the risk that our nation will regress to a time when we were divided, both legally and socially, based on race, religion, and ethnicity. These divisions have always existed in America, but in recent decades, it seemed those walls of division were breaking down. Old wounds were healing and diverse communities were joining together. That changed with resurgence of racial hatred and religious bigotry heralded by the Trump Administration. Like the monster in a horror movie, white supremacism never truly died, and now it has returned with a vengeance, catching our society while we were complacent. Defeating it, once and for all, is perhaps our greatest challenge.

Previously a development coordinator for Points of Light, a field coordinator for the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, and a marketing consultant with the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, Ruwa Romman is the director of communications at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Georgia.

Say No To Hate 1

Ruwa Romman: We believe that one of the most significant problems facing Americans today is the risk that our nation will regress to a time when we were divided, both legally and socially, based on race, religion, and ethnicity. These divisions have always existed in America, but in recent decades, it seemed those walls of division were breaking down. Old wounds were healing and diverse communities were joining together. That changed with resurgence of racial hatred and religious bigotry heralded by the Trump Administration. Like the monster in a horror movie, white supremacism never truly died, and now it has returned with a vengeance, catching our society while we were complacent. Defeating it, once and for all, is perhaps our greatest challenge.

As for the biggest problem facing Atlanta: even though our city is relatively diverse and accepting, race was still the primary factor in the last mayoral election, and race plays a major role in the displacement of communities of color at the hands of development projects. As housing prices skyrocket, more and more communities are being destroyed and replaced. This is a tragedy because there is so much history in Atlanta, longtime residents of which have shared that history for generations.


Say No To Hate 2

Ruwa Romman: We need to make sure that businesses which receive approval for major development projects take into account the community members who already live in that area. There is no doubt that development is a necessary component of a thriving city, but that progress must not directly or indirectly displace entire communities. We must protect residents from sharply rising property taxes, and the city must spread the economic benefits of development projects. Granting businesses exorbitant tax breaks, and displacing communities for those business, is not a morally or financially sustainable model for the City of Atlanta.

Say No To Hate 3

Ruwa Romman: Protesting in the streets has been, and can be, an effective way to bring attention to an issue. However, protesting must be a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. One of the things that made the March for Our Lives, and the Women’s March before it, so successful is that organizers didn’t just protest. They registered people to vote, held town halls, and otherwise kept the momentum going after the protests ended. This is why we at CAIR Georgia do not simply protest injustice. We seek to roll it back by educating Georgia Muslims about their legal rights, and encouraging them to exercise those rights, whether in the court of law or the halls of the legislature. We know this work does not stop at protests.

Say No To Hate 4

Ruwa Romman: Like protesting, social media is a powerful tool for both positive and negative change. We have seen this not only in the United States, but overseas during the Arab Spring. Social media should serve as a jumping off point for activists to educate each other, rally support for causes, and debate issues in a frankly but friendly way. However, too much social media, or misused social media, can do the exact opposite. At its worst, social media distorts reality by creating an echo chamber, exacerbating conflict, and leading to groupthink. We need to leave our screens and talk to other people, especially people with different social, political, and religious views than our normal circle of Facebook friends. Activists must also resist the a false sense of accomplishment that social media can create, just as we must avoid doing good work for the sake of acquiring more likes and followers.

Say No To Hate 5

Ruwa Romman: As the only Muslim civil rights organization in Georgia, CAIR Georgia understands that we cannot only defend the rights of Georgia Muslims. Our rights are intertwined with the rights of our neighbors of various backgrounds. That’s why we work with a variety of civil rights groups, activists, and political organizations to learn about the struggles other communities face and, when possible, support their efforts.

Say No To Hate 6

Ruwa Romman: Talk to your neighbors, especially the ones who look different than you, or think differently than you do. Take the time to create small communities. Things as simple as a potluck can go a long way to increasing bonds between people. We at CAIR Georgia are inspired by the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who taught that all of our neighbors have obligations over us, no matter their religion, race, or background. A person cannot be a believer, he said, if that person goes to bed full while his neighbor is hungry. Our country is going through a lot right now, and we need look out for one another. Doing so will, God willing, help roll back the tide of hate in the long term.




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