Calling on American Companies to Stand Up to Bigotry
All-American Muslim is TLC’s bold new reality TV show that follows Muslim American families in Dearborn, MI. It has all the features of reality television – funny, dramatic, sensational, addictive – but it also tackles real-world struggles: family and marriage, racism, religious conflict, and how life changed after 9/11. It made me excited – the first truly mainstream portrait of Muslims in America.
Last week, fringe anti-Muslim groups pressured American companies to pull their advertising dollars from the show – and it worked! Lowe’s Home Improvement caved in.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Almost overnight, more than 20,000 people expressed moral outrage at what Lowe’s had done and signed a petition to encourage companies to do the right thing and stand up to religious extremism.
As a storyteller, filmmaker, and person of faith, I’m writing to ask you to join the groundswell, to join these 20,000 and stand up strong for religious freedom:
Click here to sign the petition. (Once you sign, we’ll add our names to the 20,000 others who have spoken out already.)
I was honored to have the opportunity to go on The Rachel Maddow Show on Monday night to share my passion and speak to the urgency of the moment:
On the show, I reflected on how we have lived in the shadow of 9/11 for a decade, witnessing resurgences of anti-Muslim bias. But in this moment – a time of economic instability and in an election season – some have tried to use anti-Muslim rhetoric as a political tool to score points or make a profit.
They have repeated the refrain: “Where is the mainstream Muslim community?” Here they are! On reality TV. Complex, messy, diverse, fascinating, and even lovable. But the moment they engage mainstream audiences, they are viciously attacked.
There is good news: we have entered a new decade. People of faith are tired of their religion being used as a tool of oppression. And a new generation is on the scene – the largest, most diverse and open-minded generation the country has seen. What gives me hope is that there is a groundswell of people out there – you and me – who are hungry to see an end to the politics of fear.
As a Sikh American storyteller, I believe that stories can dissolve fear: stories can save us, break us open, and make us human to each other. All-American Muslim is the quintessential form of modern American storytelling – a reality TV show! No single show can represent an entire community, but as someone who has fought the tide of post-911 racism with my film Divided We Fall, this television show gives me hope. The show signals a new era, a new time, where Muslims, Sikhs, and all underrepresented people can enter mainstream media and tell their stories in their own voice. We just need to stand up for them.
In this holiday season, a time of coming together and binding ties of compassion, please take a moment to sign the petition, share with your friends, and tune in to the show this month – Sundays at 10/9c on TLC.