Hasan: "If You Want to Make a Difference, Set a Goal"

November 15, 2011

Last week, my colleague Saadia Khan, Civic Outreach Coordinator, and I spoke with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) at the annual Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Institute of Public Affairs California Policy Issues Conference.

Chu addressed the importance of reclaiming the California dream of equality for all and affirmed the importance of working hard to improve the system for future generations, even if we don't reap the benefits right away.

In addition to Chu, other politicians such as Sheila James Kuehl, who served in both at the California Assembly and State Senate, re-enforced the importance of mobilizing around a clear issue with a clear ask. Kuehl encouraged Muslims dealing with issues of xenophobia to from campaigns about specific issues and or cases and to campaigns that focus on a clear outcome so that our efforts are not lost by spinning our wheels in several different directions. This will help the Muslim American community establish clear goal such as getting a building permit for a mosque that is under scrutiny by anti-Muslim activists.

"Xenophobia is too broad of a topic," Kuehl said. "You must ask yourself 'to do what?' "

Their words served as a reminder to how much more effective we can be as a community if we focus our efforts on specific campaigns and projects. It's not enough to organize and meet for the sake of building alliances and coalitions. We need to be specific and have clear asks and outcomes. 

Other elements of the conference covered everything from the 2010 Census data to California's budget crisis to restoring public trust in elected officials to the future of young leaders in California.  

Regardless of your passion, it is important to find what matters to you and work for it. One such example is mobilizing a coalition around a campaign to make higher education affordable. The quality of education in California is being compromised by budget cuts. College students are in $1 trillion debt, and they are facing the challenge of finding a job during these tough economic times.

Reclaiming the California dream by coming together, mobilizing and unifying with a clear voice is something we will all benefit from. 

If you are interested in MPAC helping your community overcome xenophobia, please contact us to set up an "I AM CHANGE" civic engagement workshop at your local mosque/community center. 

-- Aziza Hasan
Director of Southern California Government Relations 

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