Mixing Motherhood + Revolution: A Muslim Mother on the Frontline for Justice
Standing amid 500 other women of faith in front of the Customs and Border Protection office in Washington, D.C., Khadija Gurnah stepped to the mic and bared her soul. She was there to demand action for the thousands of immigrant children who had been separated from their families at the border.
As an immigrant and mother of three, Gurnah knows the plight of marginalized communities all too well. But for the future of her children and children everywhere, she imagines a more civil, inclusive and tolerant America.
“I feel ownership as a mother to make this world a better place,” she said.
As the Director of Immigration for MomsRising, a network of over a million mothers united to build a more family-friendly America.
“When I’m tired and overwhelmed, I’m not even looking at the timeline of next year, I’m looking at what does life look like for my children as adults in America. That’s what fuels me as an advocate,” Gurnah said.
As a Muslim, faith has always been at the forefront of her day-to-day work. In today’s political climate, many non-Christian communities can feel scrutinized or excluded from the table, but Gurnah has another approach to how she wants her children to view the world and their faith.
“My children are Black, Latinx-Muslims - I think that this is a tough time for all of their identities in America,” she said. “However, they were born into this space and I want them to love and embrace every part of who they are.”
Gurnah said that her children are what brought her to MomsRising, because she was looking for ways to articulate her passion and to advocate in a way that didn’t take away from the time she spends with her children. MomsRising allowed her to use her platform as a mother to have a moral voice of faith in the progressive movement.
When she isn’t lifting up voices of immigrants, she spends time in her vibrant community in Connecticut. One of her friends created the concept of Sanctuary Kitchen to help refugee women with entrepreneurial opportunities by training them through catering businesses. Gurnah does Swahili translation for the organization.
She is also incredibly fascinated by the activism led by communities of color at the state level in Connecticut, where people are fighting for their rights that are being taken away at the federal level.
Her successful national outreach campaign to bolster enrollment in the Affordable Care Act in the Muslim community led to her recognition as a White House “Champion of Change” by the Obama administration.
She will continue to cry out against policies that discriminate people of color and the most vulnerable, alongside faith leaders and her three children.