Congress’ First Muslim

I heard an interview on the radio this morning with Keith Ellison, who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in Minnesota. His election would be historic not only because he’d be the first Black Representative from Minnesota ever, but also because he would be the first known Muslim elected to Congress.

In a perfect world, this would be a non-issue. Sadly, we live in a world that is rampant with imperfection, often times manifesting itself as racism, bigotry, and hatred. Sites like this one have popped up attacking Ellison. They don’t attack his stances; they mainly focus on his religion.

This article makes an interesting point:

[Council on American-Islamic Relations Spokesman Corey] Saylor attributed the fact that there have been no Muslims in Congress to two things: The Muslim political movement in America is in its infancy, with the first groups having started less than two decades ago, and the lasting effects of Sept. 11 and the negative perceptions about Muslims that have resulted.

That sounds eerily similar to the position that Black people in this country were in last century. Why is our political movement still in its infancy?

Lastly, shout out to Wayne State University in Detroit, where Ellison attended college.

One Love. One II.



Tags: , ,

About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

3 responses to “Congress’ First Muslim”

  1. Brandon Q. says :

    Great post G, I think the reason why the Black political movement is still in its infancy is because somehow as a collective we have bought into the belief that “activists” are crazy dashiki wearing vegetarians instead of appreciating the model that gives everyone a stake in making out lives better.

    Also, I think that our language has crippled us by using phrases such as “fighting the system” or “the man”. it is like Black folks are in a war where we can’t see nor define the entities that seek to exploit us.

    Lastly, we keep talking about having unity, (which is important) as a prerequisite for doing anything. Just get up and do the work!!!

    Stay up fam,

  2. Garlin II says :


    I think you are right. Going one step further, I think people are caught up in what their ideal image of a “revolutionary” is (what you desribed: the cat with dreads and a dashiki). Because people are unable to see themselves in such a light, they feel that they can’t be a part of any “revolution.”

    What needs to be understood here is that the “revolution” is a mental and spiritual one. These things happen independent of outward appearance. I don’t give a d@mn how many red, black & green wristbands or bandannas you have, how many malcolm x t shrits you wear; the changes, the “revolution,” must be effective on the inside.

    I disagree that the entities that folks are “at war with” are not definable. I think that we have this issue of thinking that they are so big that they are both insurmountable and undefinable. While the challenges are great, they are not impossible. All journeys start the same way: with one step.

  3. Garlin II says :

    Keith Ellison won.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: