There are many contradictions in the world today, top among them are the evangelical Christians who profess their faith and love of God, yet dismiss the “other” contemptuously. “Love of God and love for our neighbor are inseparable.”
In 2015, an African American tenured professor at Wheaton, a liberal arts Christian college in Illinois, donned the hijab in an act of embodied solidarity with Muslim women who were experiencing Islamophobic threats and intimidation. Professor Larycia Hawkins posted her picture on Facebook wearing the hijab and wrote that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.
The firestorm that followed that simple act garnered national attention, and Professor Hawkins ultimately lost her job.
An alumna from Wheaton, Linda Midgett, was moved by Hawkins’ story and decided to make a documentary. I was fortunate to see a screening of Same God at the Zakat Foundation of America in Illinois on January 26, 2020 where both Professor Hawkins and Linda Midgett answered questions afterwards.
The important take away message was Professor Hawkins’ valuable lesson about “embodied solidarity” — a new phrase for me. Standing in solidarity with Palestinian refugees in Gaza, what does it actually require?
Education for sure. Reading Palestinian authors, listening to Palestinian voices, watching Palestinian films, and most importantly, visiting Palestinians in Gaza — all with an open heart and an inquisitive mind.
However, solidarity must be more than merely a theoretical exercise of support and affirmation. That’s why the phrase “embodied solidarity” is so meaningful. Professor Hawkins describes what she means by “embodied solidarity” in this short TEDTalk. “You can’t be pro-Israeli without also being pro-Palestinian.”