In an earlier post, “First They Came“, discusses people who allow injustice to occur without speaking up. Dr. Larycia Hawkins, a professor at Wheaton College stood up for others and in turn, others stood up for her.
“No one is safe and that’s the message Wheaton College should hear. None of my students are safe. None of my colleagues are safe,” Wheaton College Professor Dr. Larycia Hawkins said.
Dr. Hawkins actions embodies what this country needs right now! Professor Hawkins, who is Christian, bravely took a stand to speak out and join hands with people who are currently being demonized by Donald Trump and other bigoted people in this country.
Her solidarity statement came in the aftermath of the Dec. 2, 2015, shooting in San Bernardino, California. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had just called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” and American Muslims, particularly hijab-wearing women, were reporting hate crimes against them.
- On December 10, 2015, Dr. Hawkins posted a message on Facebook expressing solidarity with her brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith.
- On December 15, 2015, Dr. Hawkins was placed on administrative leave by Wheaton College, and relieved of all teaching and programmatic duties for the Spring 2016 semester.
Dr. Hawkins continued her Christian act of embodied solidarity, wearing the hijab, through Advent, leading up to Christmas.
- On January 4, 2016, Dr. Hawkins received an email notification of the Provost’s Recommendation to Initiate Termination.
She was showing love and kindness, as she said, Jesus commands. She did not appear to violate any of the school’s statement of faith. She stated, “I love Wheaton College and have always respected it, but in this case they over reacted, likely because of the current environment of hatred and generalization. Muslims are my neighbors and as worthy of God’s love as myself.”
She never denied, what she referred to as the exclusivity of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. She simply wore a Hijab to show respect for Muslims as human beings.
There was a rally held in Chicago in support of Dr. Hawkins and she explained her position . The entire video is about 53 minutes, but only a 13 minute section starting at 26:46 and ending at 39:55 will play. You may, however, watch any part by clicking anywhere on the timeline. The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke on her behalf, comparing her to Rosa Parks in the first few minutes of the rally.
Dr. Larycia Hawkins’ Facebook Post
Below is a copy of Dr. Hawkins’ December 10, 2015 Facebook post, that caused Wheaton College to recommended her termination.
I don’t love my Muslim neighbor because s/he is American.
I love my Muslim neighbor because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity.
I stand in human solidarity with my Muslim neighbor because we are formed of the same primordial clay, descendants of the same cradle of humankind–a cave in Sterkfontein, South Africa that I had the privilege to descend into to plumb the depths of our common humanity in 2014.
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.
But as I tell my students, theoretical solidarity is not solidarity at all. Thus, beginning tonight, my solidarity has become embodied solidarity.
As part of my Advent Worship, I will wear the hijab to work at Wheaton College, to play in Chi-town, in the airport and on the airplane to my home state that initiated one of the first anti-Sharia laws (read: unconstitutional and Islamophobic), and at church.
I invite all women into the narrative that is embodied, hijab-wearing solidarity with our Muslim sisters–for whatever reason. A large scale movement of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs is my Christmas #wish this year.
Perhaps you are a Muslim who does not wear the veil normally. Perhaps you are an atheist or agnostic who finds religion silly or inexplicable. Perhaps you are a Catholic or Protestant Christian like me. Perhaps you already cover your head as part of your religious worship, but not a hijab.
***I would like to add that I have sought the advice and blessing of one of the preeminent Muslim organizations in the United States, the Council on American Islamic Relations, #CAIR, where I have a friend and Board colleague on staff. I asked whether a non-Muslim wearing the hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive to Muslims. I was assured by my friends at CAIR-Chicago that they welcomed the gesture. So please do not fear joining this embodied narrative of actual as opposed to theoretical unity; human solidarity as opposed to mere nationalistic, sentimentality.
Document your own experiences of Women in Solidarity with Hijabs #wish.