This post was written by guest contributor Yasmin N. Ali.
I was seventeen years old when I first encountered, in full force, the hierarchies that are often built into many Muslim communities. Back then, I was fighting to make my debate team coed so I’d get one more year of experience before I graduated high school. I went to an Islamic school, and mixing with the opposite gender was frowned upon. Eventually, I succeeded in making my team coed while also acquiring a distaste for things done in a “traditional way.” That memory was crystal clear in my mind one week ago when I was introduced to the Executive Board in my new position as the Director of Programs for Community Builders, Chicago (CBC). Their organization’s board members were sitting in a small room when I was introduced to them after accepting the offer, and I suddenly found myself feeling all of seventeen years old again.
I also started wondering how I could work to reconcile these “traditional” personalities with newer media outreach strategies.
By appearance, they looked similar to the school board members all those years ago. Most of them had questions in their eyes when I entered the room. So I decided the best way I could work to revamp their PR was to approach the situation with an open mind and make sure that all of their questions would be answered. [Read more...]