Today is a big day for Muslim organizers and what I hope, is the first of many. Right here in Brooklyn, thousands are coming together to protest the bigoted actions of Lowes Home Improvement stores. For those of you who don't know, Lowe's pulled all their advertising from TLC's new reality show, "All American Muslim." This was in response to a right-wing group in Florida that thinks the show is deceptive because it shows Muslims in everyday environments and not planning terrorist plots.
Admittedly I have not seen the show. But it sounds like a decent effort to combat Islamophobia by showing 5 families in Dearborn, Michigan, living, working, playing, studying, praying like the rest of America.
I am proud of the Muslim community today for so quickly, efficiently, and successfully organizing against Lowes. Now, I challenge the Muslims to use their obvious power to organize against other companies whose actions hurt not just the Muslim community, but hurt everyone.
Muslims organizing a boycott is significant, important, and something to pay attention to. You see, Muslims, as a demographic, have an incredible amount of spending power. Recent studies show that annually, Muslims spend between $125 and $200 billion in the United States alone. Ironically, this article shows $33 billion of spending in housing and housing services - too bad Lowe's!
Now here comes my challenge to the Muslims. If we put together our speed in organizing, our consumer power, and our allies, think of our impact on other corporations! We can harness our power to bring to light wrongdoings that other big companies are committing against everyone. We can help reshape American spending to support those with socially responsible, ethical practices.
What if Lowe's was McDonald's? One pulls advertising the other props up a factory farming system destructive to the planet and to people's health. McDonalds brags about serving Billions - but what are they serving?
What if Lowe's was Walmart? I know Muslims in my family that spend exorbitant amounts of money at Walmart when they should see them as bigoted as they now see Lowe's. Walmart's crushing labor practices, unsafe working conditions, and negative community impact have more heinous, more long lasting implications on not just Muslims, but everyone, than say Lowe's pulling its ads.
No question about it, I have high hopes for the Muslim community that we can be leaders in bringing movements together and in organizing on issues that don't exclusively impact Muslims. In fact, we can use the issues that impact us to advocate for everyone's rights! I try to establish Muslims as leaders on environmental issues in my book - Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet - because the environment affects everyone. So congrats my people on a successful campaign against Lowe's, but let's choose the next campaign that will bring about positive change for all.