MALA is off to a running-start in 2021, and poised to collect more stories than ever. Thanks to the generous funding of our partners and supporters, we have been able to set ambitious goals for the Muslim American Journeys project this year, both increasing the volume of stories we collect, and expanding the diversity of the project as a whole.
In 2021, MALA is placing a special focus on recording and curating oral histories from Muslim Americans belonging to Black and LGBTQIA+ communities. These individuals and the communities they belong to have long been marginalized and subject to discrimination in the United States--we feel it is our responsibility, as an inclusive and compassionate platform, to share the stories of these communities in hopes that we may help to build stronger compassion, resiliency, and understanding around the experiences and obstacles facing them.
This new focus represents MALA's continued resolve to innovate in the field of oral history and storytelling. We remain resolute in finding new ways to share and engage with the struggles, triumphs, and nuances of American identity and the countless cultures, stories, and perspectives that contribute to our social fabric.
When you support MALA, you support our efforts to share these perspectives--you contribute directly to the representation and agency of marginalized communities across the country. We are so grateful for your support and insight as we continue this journey together!
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, MALA has continued to seek innovative new ways to record and share stories of Muslim Americans. During the past several months, MALA has worked with our StoryCorps to use a virtual storytelling platform, allowing us to record oral histories remotely while continuing to ensure that stories are archived in the Library of Congress. Through this innovative partnership MALA has successfully recorded a dozen new stories in the past couple of months, with many more on the way. Be sure to stay tuned to MALA's website to check out new stories and track our new projects.
In light of the COVID-19 Pandemic, MALA, like many other organizations, has been forced to reimagine our programming for virtual audiences. Part of this process has involved findng creative and unique ways to continue to collect and share the stories of Muslim Americans. During the months past, MALA has launched a series of webinars and virtual community discussions that have brought in a number of storytellers, ranging from professional Muslim athletes, congressional representatives, corporate innovators, and inspiring artists. These stories have been archived on MALA's Youtube Channel, and can be viewed for free at any time.
Additionally, MALA has begun working with StoryCorps to coordinate virtual oral history interviews to be archived in the National Library of Congress. If you would like to sign up to have your story recorded, send us an email at stories@MALAnational.org!
During these unprecedented times, MALA is more committed than ever to finding innovative and creative ways to share and amplify the voices of Muslim Americans. We invite you to join us in this effort, and to help us empower a new generation of storytellers. When we share our stories, we share our communities.
2020 is set to be the biggest year yet for the Muslim American Journeys project. MALA's team is hard at work in Chicago, New York, and Washington D.C. collecting the stories of American Muslims, and archiving oral histories. These stories illuminate the diversity within American Muslim communities, and showcase the range of contributions that Muslims continue to make to society every day. Take, for example, one of our newest storytellers, Amir Badr, the CEO of Upkey:
"I came to Chicago in May, so when it was still winter. I remember I wanted to cry on the inside because I couldn’t communicate with people. And it felt so bad not being able to ask questions due to being so shy. Part of the shyness was cultural, but part of it was also because I was just new. It was an incredible feeling though to be like oh my god I made it! But then also realizing that oh my god I made it but I don’t know what to do now! I remember looking around at people and thinking that everything was so beautiful, everyone was kind of free and everyone was doing their own thing. Even though I was very scared and nervous, it felt like I was in pain. Deep deep down, I had this new hope that I am in the right place and that even though I’m about to cry now I am going to figure this out.
This was definitely a personal and passion kind of driven idea for me, everyone else that is at the Upkey family, you know we have grown the team to twenty-plus people now and we are just getting started. So, I don’t see this being a mere venture because I think there is an underdog in all of us. We all want to see a hard worker whether they are a student or professional, get the chance they deserve."
MALA has collected and archived hundreds of unique success stories like Amir's. We are currently working to expand the Muslim American Journeys project even further by developing more multimedia approaches to storytelling. With your support MALA can continue to collect and share these incredible stories. Our journey has just begun.
As 2019 draws to a close, MALA is finishing up a year of tremendous growth and expansion. At the forefront of this growth is the Muslim American Journeys project, which has increased by nearly 20 percent this year, to include even more stories of Muslim American triumphs, struggles, and journeys across the United States.
The reach of the Journeys project is growing at a national level: in October, MALA leadership was invited to present on MALA's oral history project at the Annual meeting of the Oral History Association for the second consecutive year, alongside representatives from the National Library of Congress, the Veterans History Project, and others.
This month, MALA also opened applications for our annual scholarship program. This program is open to all American residents over the age of 18 who are pursuing a higher education and who have a story to tell. We are honored to assist aspiring young leaders access higher education, and are excited to read and share the incredible stories they submit.
As Giving Tuesday approaches, we hope you will consider supporting the Muslim American Journeys project, to help MALA find, record, produce, and share more incredible stories of Muslims in the United States.
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