I enjoyed this Ted Radio Hour show for various reasons. One, it reminded me to not be too serious and to laugh more about hardships and turmoils. But more importantly, I appreciated these two speakers, Maysoon Sayid and Negin Farsad because their stories, told with humor, are trying to break down stereotypes and prejudices and are bringing people together.
Negin Farsad has even taken her mission off the stage and into the street, setting up booths, making pastries, and asking if anyone has any questions about Islam. And when people ask, when they truly sit down and ask honest questions, questions like, "Why do some Muslim women look like you, and some Muslim women you can't tell who they are? Like if they robbed a bank, you wouldn't be able to tell who they are?" or "I don't understand, I mean, you're dressed like an American" - "I am American" she interrupts - "Okay . . ." and "Tell me why I haven't seen Muslims who are not extremist criticizing the Muslims who are?" walls begin to crumble.
In order for community and unity to be found, for ignorance to be beaten, somebody has to be strong. Kind. And bigger than the situation, than themselves. They must, "remain delightful" because, "you'll attract more bees with honey." Which also means, sometimes, those holding the honey will have to endure the stings of the ignorant and cruel.
Negin and her fellow traveling comedians made a movie about this project called, "The Muslims are Coming."
Soon thereafter, a known hate group spent 300,000 dollars on an ANTI MUSLIM poster campaign.
Negin and her crew responded with a "Fighting Bigotry with Delightful Posters" campaign. They raised the money, worked with the city of NY for over five months, and got the posters approved.
The posters said things like, "Fact. Grown up Muslims can do more pushups than baby Muslims!"
But then, two days after they were supposed to go up, they were banned for "political content."
Despite this and other obstacles, like death threats, Negin says she still things Social Justice Comedy is one of the greatest weapons against bigotry. "I have performed in red states and blue states, and one thing I've found," she explains, "is that the American people are not built to hate. They want to be friendly and they want to offer you a coffee and open the door for you." They want to be good neighbors.
Because "if you approach people with love," Negin argues, "you get love in return." Muslim or not.
Once more Ms. Adichie's words come to mind, "Single stories create stereotypes. And the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but incomplete."
Remain delightful, because the Muslims are coming, and many of them carry honey.
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