Challenge Islamophobia Project Fall 2018 Updates


We are in the final stages of completing the “Islamophobia: A People’s History Teaching Guide,” seven lessons that help us rethink what we know about the history of Muslims in the U.S., including the fact that Islamophobia is rooted in a history of racism.

All of the lessons are currently being piloted in classrooms to collect teacher and student feedback. All of the lessons will be posted online in the coming weeks. The lessons are:



New Project Advisor Margari Aziza Hill

We are pleased to announce that Margari Aziza Hill, Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, has joined us as an advisor on the Challenge Islamophobia project. MuslimARC is a faith-based human rights education organization that creates space, connects people, and cultivates solutions for racial justice both inside and outside Muslim communities. She has spent hours in conversation with us about the lesson plans: shaping the objectives, curating teaching resources, and critically analyzing curricular choices. Her expertise and insight have greatly enriched the project.



Outreach and Piloting

To date, we have introduced the project and shared lessons with more than 1,300 people, including 334 teachers. We are confident that we will exceed our goal of reaching 400 teachers impacting 60,000 students in the coming weeks.


  • Presented at Morgan State University’s Faculty Institute. On August 9 in Baltimore, we shared the interactive lesson on “Black Muslims in the United States: An Introductory Activity” with 175 educators and discussed ways that participatory pedagogies like the meet-and-greet can create more inclusive classrooms.

  • Piloted “What is Islamophobia? A Jigsaw Activity.” We engaged 35 teachers at the DOE/Iowa State Teacher Workshop on Middle East Studies in Des Moines, Iowa, in this new lesson.

  • Piloted Lessons at Northern Virginia Community College. We piloted three lessons with 90 students in Dr. Nicole Hindert’s Sociology courses at Alexandria’s Northern Virginia Community College, including a lesson on the recently published book, American Hate: Survivors Speak Out by Arjun Singh Sethi. The book consists of testimonials that Sethi, a civil rights lawyer based in Washington, DC, collected from recent hate crime survivors, some of whom are Muslim or targeted as Muslim. The stories in this collection illustrate the way Islamophobia is part of a larger project to dehumanize anyone who does not fit in the vision of a rising nationalist tide, targeting identities including Native, black, Arab, Latinx, South Asian, Southeast Asian, Jewish, Sikh, undocumented, refugee, transgender, queer, and people with disabilities. These survivors have important lessons to share on how we move toward justice.

  • Piloted Lessons at Kennedy High School. Two teachers at Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, invited us to their classrooms. Neha Singhal invited us to her Latinx History class to develop a lesson on Latinx Muslims. Michael Williams welcomed us to his African-American History class, where we introduced the story of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to his students who have been investigating the history of Black athlete protest. In 1996, Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA for not standing for the National Anthem. If you are not familiar with the story, view this documentary, which is one of the teaching resources in the lesson.

  • Presented “Latinx Muslims: Stereotypes and Surveillance” at Morgan State University. As part of the University’s Latinx History Month programming, we presented the newly developed lesson in Baltimore. One of the professors who organized the event is Harold Morales, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at MSU and author of the new book, Latino and Muslim in America.

  • “Black Muslims in the United States” Field-Tested at Alice Deal Middle School. Eighth grade social studies teachers at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C. used the “Black Muslims in the United States: An introductory activity” lesson with their 550 students. The lesson was used during a unit about the colonization of North America. Special thanks to Amy Trenkle, who coordinated this effort and designed a worksheet to help students prepare.

  • “What is Islamophobia” Piloted at Teachers for Social Justice Conference. Alison Kysia presented our new “What is Islamophobia?” lesson on October 6 at the Teachers for Social Justice Conference in San Francisco. It was wonderful to catch up with friends at Rethinking Schools and to see them sell out of the recently published Teaching for Black Lives and a number of other books that give teachers both the inspiration and technical assistance to teach social justice in thoughtful and serious ways.

  • Presented a Lesson at a House Party. Thank you to Zeenat White for hosting a fundraising house party on September 23 in Oakton, Virginia. We shared the “What is Islamophobia: A jigsaw activity” with twenty-five of her close friends.


  • November 15: Shoulder-to-Shoulder anti-Islamophobia faith leader training, Washington, D.C.

  • November 17: Teachers for Social Justice Curriculum Fair, Chicago

  • November 30: National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference, Session 1961: What is Islamophobia? from 2:45-3:45 pm at Comiskey, Concourse Level, West Tower at the Hyatt Regency, Chicago

  • February 8-9, 2019: School Leaders of Color Conference, Dallas

  • May 2019: National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE), Portland, Oregon

Mykella Palmer