It’s always the quiet ones

Hina Tai came in for an interview. I needed someone with qualitative research skills and I needed someone right away. In typical Hina fashion, (a fashion she does not always appreciate!), she was the only one to apply.

Hina was then a student at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, with a double undergraduate major in anthropology and journalism. Bingo! She knows qualitative research AND she knows how to write. One thing on her resume caught my attention. She was (and still is) an editor for The Islamic Monthly.

Now I could say something stupid, like some of my best friends are Muslim–and there are many Muslims in my life, but I have never had regular interactions with a traditionally raised Muslim person. Someone who unmistakably wears the banner ‘Muslim’ with pride and with a mission. Over the next year, Hina gently and persistently introduced me to the idea of Islamophobia. Something I embarrassingly and with new awareness, watched play out subtly in my office.

Make no mistake, there is a range of expression in Islamophobia—from the rage of Americans wanting to kick out every Muslim in the US to the more nuanced ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of acceptance expressed by more liberal folks. Which do you think is harder to address?

Hina Tai is up to the challenge. Already she’s made great contributions in getting her message out to all kinds of Americans through articles posted in mainstream and targeted media. She was recently selected by StoryCorps  to tell her American tale, which will then be archived in the Library of Congress for future generations.

You can follow Hina’s American tale yourself by clicking here.

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