How to host an anti-Islamophobia House Party

White folks, which side are we on?

The Islamophobic and anti-refugee rhetoric spouted by political players and their followers is not harmless, and not to be ignored. As a result of these violent words, Muslims and Arabs (and those who are perceived to be) are being attacked and harassed in American streets, and anti-refugee policies are threatening the lives of those who are facing crises in their home countries and seeking asylum. We know that this is only the latest flare-up of deep-rooted racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and Islamophobia in this country, and while there is a current increase of attacks, this is not a new phenomenon.

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As white folks, we need to drown out the racist and Islamophobic noise of these presidential candidates. We need to establish a new normal in the United States of being neighborly, supportive, and loving toward our Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh neighbors. We need to show our friends, families, colleagues, and networks that we will not tolerate Islamophobia.

We know from history that white folks are often organized to support hateful, harmful policy or they tend to sit on the sidelines. We can’t let that happen. White folks in this country can join the right side of history, but they will only join us if we invite them.

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Holding a house party is one way to extend this invitation.

How to Hold a House Party

  1. Pick a date and time.  Make it soon! Many folks have woken up in the last few days given the upsurge in the rhetoric.

  2. Build your list. Spend a few minutes thinking about folks you can invite. Cast a wide net: who is probably with you, but hasn’t been asked how they feel about what’s happening in our country? Who just needs an invitation to participate? A good way to generate a list is to think about everyone who would pick up the phone if you called them. Unless you know they are active white supremacists, invite them.

  3. Invite everyone. Send out an email, or better yet, make individual phone calls.

  4. Do turn out. Don’t assume that folks are coming unless they tell you -twice! reminder phone calls the day before or day of and reminding folks how excited you are for them to come will help ensure a good turn out.

  5. Host! See below for sample agenda and discussion questions

  6. Follow up. If there are action steps that come out of the conversation, be sure to follow up. Also, please share any contact information with the SURJ staff to be sure that the folks you recruited can stay in touch with what’s happening in the SURJ network and upcoming opportunities for action.

Sample agenda for house party

  • Welcome

    • Share who you are, why you are called to this work, and why you’re taking action in this moment.

  • Introductions

    • have folks introduce themselves and say a few words on why they came tonight and/or any questions they are coming with.

  • Share SURJ values to ground the discussion:

    • Calling In, not out

    • Taking risks, making mistakes, learning and keep going

    • Tap into mutual interest

    • Accountability through collective action

    • Enough for Everyone

    • Growing is Good

  • Discussion

    • See below for quotes and discussion questions

  • Action

    • Take a group picture, post on facebook and send to SURJ

    • Sign the pledge of resistance and share on social media

    • Brainstorm what else might be possible if we were to act together

  • Close

    • Choose a ritual to close the space. It could be a poem, song or a check in about how everyone is feeling at the end of the night.

Discussion Questions

  • Donald Trump has called for a ban on letting all Muslim’s into the country, mandated registration programs for Muslims, and even internment camps. How does that make you feel?

  • Last week, when polled, 30% of Americans supported bombing “Aghrabah” - a fictional city used in Disney’s Aladdin. What do you believe this says about the state of white support for foreign and domestic policy towards Arabs and Muslims?

  • Why do you think so many white people are fearful of or hateful toward Muslims? (remember to hit on calling folks in here!)

  • What do you think we could do to help bring more white people into this work?

  • If we were to take action together to send a new message of love and support to Muslims & Arabs, what might be possible?

  • What are some of the white communities we are part of that we might be able to move into action?