Asalam alaikum everyone!
This week, the community that I am working within had two Janazahs (Islamic funerals). The individuals who passed were both Muslim, but the family and friends that had attended each Janazah were noticeably more diverse.
During the ceremony for Brother “Ahmed,” I observed Muslim brothers and sisters dressed in traditional Nation of Islam clothing. The brothers were dressed in sharp black suits and the sisters in traditional white dresses. I enjoyed hearing about all the great stories and history that this brother was a part of. I listened as Ahmed’s wife reflected on their time together, as Ahmed’s children reminisced about the good times, and as Ahmed’s grandchildren cried at the stand wishing that they could have a little more time together.
During the ceremony for Brother “Adam,” I observed a diverse array of Muslims and Christians in the Masjid all mourning the loss of Adam. I saw Adam’s friends and family all come together to pray and celebrate Adam’s life regardless of religion or background. And again, I listened as Adam’s wife reflected on their time together, as Adam’s children reminisced about the good times, and as Adam’s grandchildren cried at the stand wishing that they could have a little more time together.
Ahmed’s Janazah emphasized the rich and vast history of Islam in the community, and Adam’s Janazah emphasized the beautiful diversity that is flourishing in the community. Most importantly, however, both Janazahs emphasized the importance of coming together and family.
That’s the beauty of the community that DREAM serves.
And it is such an honor and privilege to be working on a project where we get to capture both the history and diversity of this neighborly community. We get to capture the stories of passionate community leaders, wise community elders, and hopeful community youth. It is a project that aims to engage, empower, and educate a whole community regardless of background, race, and religion.
Through the community based participatory research that DREAM is doing with Dr. Alisa Perkins’ project, I get to learn about the history of the community by the people with the lived experience to teach it. I get to see firsthand the work that is being done by the people who call this community home. In a city where highways were built to divide, I get to witness a community come together for the shared goal of revitalization with the dream of building a thriving and sustainable neighborhood.