Allies took a stand for praying Muslim students at the University of Michigan.

Just days after the election, a Muslim student at the University of Michigan  was approached by a stranger who ordered her to remove her hijab under threat that he would set her on fire.

According to Nusayba Tabbah, the internal vice president of the school's Muslim Students' Association, this was not an isolated event, but rather, an acceleration of an anti-Muslim climate on campus.

In response, the school's Muslim students decided to reclaim their space on campus — a reminder that they have the same right to be there as any other student.

MSA program committee member Rami Ebrahim suggested the group gather to pray one of their five daily prayers, ishaa, in public. In doing so, the community would be making a powerful statement, letting those who seek to antagonize them know that they will not be bullied into hiding who they are and what they believe.


The Muslim Student Association held a group Ishaa prayer at University of Michigan, with two hundred non-Muslims standing guard in a circle around them

Posted by MSA National on Monday, November 14, 2016

A few non-Muslim friends were asked to circle around the group during the prayer as a show of solidarity. What they got was so much more.

"I was surprised and overwhelmed by the number of people there — both Muslim and non-Muslim," Tabbah wrote in an email. The crowd was made up of an estimated 300 people.

Mohammed Ishtiaq, University of Michigan’s Muslim chaplain, leads prayer. Photo by Benji Bear.

"It reminded me that I have a lot to be grateful for," she continued. "We are part of an amazing community that has repeatedly spoken out about the growing hostility towards Muslims and other minorities."

Photo by Benji Bear.

Solidarity and compassion for one another is crucial. Nobody should be made to live in fear because of their religious beliefs or skin color.

"We must not stand silent while facing expressions of bigotry, discrimination or hate that have become part of our national political discourse,” wrote school president Mark Schlissel in an email to students.

Photo by Benji Bear.

Right now, more than any other time in recent history, we must stand on the side of acceptance; we must stand against bigotry. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate crimes and hate groups, has found the uptick in hate crimes to be greater in the current post-election landscape than even in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Since Election Day, the group has logged more than 400 events of harassment and intimidation.

Now is the time to be an ally to Muslims and other minorities, and that means taking action.

For one, it's important to educate yourselves and to help educate others. Tabbah recommends getting to know your Muslim neighbors, noting that many people who fear or hate Muslims simply don't know any.

Photo by Benji Bear.

Just as important: We can't let this type of bigotry and harassment become the accepted norm.

"I think it's important to speak out when we hear or see something wrong," Tabbah adds.

"We can't let ourselves become desensitized to hateful rhetoric because that just normalizes it."

Photo by Benji Bear.

We don't have to give in to a culture of fear. We can fight back. We can be a force for good in this world.

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"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

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It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

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We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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