What does it look like to be an accomplice?

Question: I often get asked about “how to be in solidarity” with people of a different race or faith from you. People seem to be looking for examples.

Response: Larycia A. Hawkins, an associate professor of political science at the evangelical Christian college Wheaton College showed us this week what it looks like to stand with Muslim women.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Hawkins announced last week that she would wear a traditional headscarf as part of her devotion during Advent, the contemplative period preceding Christmas on the Christian calendar. She wished to show support for Muslims who have felt under attack because of harsh rhetoric on social media and the presidential campaign trail since mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.”

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

Ms. Hawkins wanted to make sure that what she thought would be an act of solidarity did not become cultural appropriation. One step she took was contacting staff members at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to see whether they thought the “Muslim community” would see her gesture as patronizing or offensive. According to Ms. Hawkins’s Facebook post, the council’s staff members said they would welcome the gesture. And, CAIR has been standing with Ms. Hawkins in support since she was suspended.

Ms. Hawkins went forward with this gesture of solidarity, wearing hijab to class and was promptly put on leave by Wheaton College.

Ms. Hawkins also made a clear statement of theological solidarity saying, “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book, and as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Thank you Ms. Hawkins for standing with Muslim women, and for showing us all what an ally looks like.

Wheaton claims that it was Ms. Hawkins statement not her action of wearing hijab that got her put on leave.

Students have been getting the act (showing us some hope for the future) Chicago Tribune reported that

Myra Hooks, 21, a senior biology major from Warsaw, Ind., said the suspension reflects misplaced priorities.

“We really should be focused on our love and support for Muslims, and shouldn’t let our theological clarities shut that out,” she said.

More information on The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Chicago Tribune and CAIR Press Release

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