I am standing within the outline of a box, marked with tape on the ground. Right next to me, within my box, are educators from several schools. In the box across from me, students from another school. In the box next to them, students from another school. It goes on and on. Six boxes. Six different groups. I am the only woman with a head covering in all six groups.
The idea is for us to realize that we have more in common than we realize. We are asked to walk up to front if certain phrases apply to us. For example, those who like pineapple on their pizza.
A few prompts go by.
Now comes: If you identify as LGBT2Q+, come up to the front. A few students and staff walk up to the front.
Then comes: and those who are allies. I start walking to the front when I notice this: the seven students who had come with me, who all identify as Muslim, all walk up to the front. Every single one of them. I feel so proud.
You might think that this is the moment I’m writing about. It’s not.
When we come back to our boxes, a girl from the box facing me looks at me and once she catches my attention, she smiles, which seems in the moment, the biggest smile I had ever seen. I smiled and looked away when it hit me that it was more than that. I looked back. She smiled at me again. It was as if she made a realization. I saw change in this student’s eyes. It was an endearing moment that reminded me of the power of leading through action, not just words. This student had clearly been affected somehow, in a positive way, by my choice to walk up as an ally when Muslims are often portrayed as haters or judgmental of the LGBT2Q+ community. I saw a wall, a barrier to understanding, crumbling right before my eyes.
On my drive home, I kept telling myself that it couldn’t have been so powerful. Maybe I was just overthinking. But the power of that moment would not leave me until I found myself writing this.
May we always be open to these walls breaking and to these bridges being built.