One of the foremost results of community activism is, of course, policy change. But another, less acknowledged, impact that community activism can have is a sense of belonging. In Laila Sabreen’s young adult novel, You Truly Assumed, three Black Muslim girls begin a blog for other young women to share their thoughts and feelings after a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. Sabriya, Zakat, and Farah, live in locations around the country and practice their faith in different ways, but they come together to fight against Islamophobia in the best way they know how.
The decision by Sabreen to tell this story from three different perspectives works exceptionally well. Each of the characters is well-rounded and the story is multi-dimensional, demonstrating that every individual who shares a group identity has different experiences and beliefs. This is powerful considering the one-dimensional focus of the hateful individuals who comment on the YTA blog. While these views and messages are frightening, they are not powerful enough to overcome the community that these young women have established.
You Truly Assumed is a book that will inspire readers to speak out when they see injustice, but it will also remind them that they do not need to do this work alone. Building community can make us all stronger.
Learning for Justice Social Justice Standards:
Identity 4: I express pride and confidence in my identity without perceiving or treating anyone else as inferior.
Justice 11: I relate to all people as individuals rather than representatives of groups and can identify stereotypes when I see or hear them.
Action 17: I take responsibility for standing up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.
Action 20: I will join with diverse people to plan and carry out collective action against exclusion, prejudice and discrimination, and we will be thoughtful and creative in our actions in order to achieve our goals.