To the Women Who Inspire Me

This International Women’s Day, I raise my mug to the women and other femmes — internationally! — who inspire me.

To the woman who raised and taught me … and the woman who raised her, and the woman who raised her….

To Fakhria, my first Muslim hero….

To the strong, outspoken, relentless women — Miss Chris, Miss Lois, Miss Jessie, Mrs. Yeater, Miss Gina, Miss Sue, Miss Jeanette, Miss Laurie, Rev. Lisa…. — who supported, encouraged and laughed loud and long with my mother….

To the teachers, especially Miss Stolzfus, Mrs. Keller, Mrs. Pettijohn, Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Anderson, Frau Blechschmidt, and most especially Mrs. T, who pushed me to be the best me….

To my host mother Karin, who sat me down at her kitchen table and said, “You’re so afraid to make a mistake that you never open your mouth and speak, and miss all your opportunities.” You gave me a mantra….

To the professors, especially Uta, Laurie, Seble and Zaineb, who challenged me….

To the librarians, public and university, many of whom I called colleagues….

To sid Ismahan, who held my feet to the fire when my countrymen tortured her Arab brothers, and all the Jordanian, Palestinian and Muslim women who taught me….

Especially to Jennifer, Umm Anis and Umm Tareq who taught me how to live among the Arabs as an Arab — as their sister, daughter and friend….

To the supervisors, especially Darcy, JoAnn, Rebecca and Rev. Lissa, who helped me prioritize professional development….

Especially to Susan, who hired me when I was broken and helped me heal, and lives every day with a feminism that feels obligated to pull other women up behind us….

To the All Souls Writers Group and the Women’s Alliance and all the women of All Souls and the clergywomen and lay women who fight for our Unitarian Universalist values, from Nancy Northup on national television to Alice who quietly, steadfastly counted collection….

To my teacher and social worker friends too numerous to name who fight for our girls … and our boys….

To the queer women and Women of Color and nonbinary femmes, especially Naureen, Melissa and Kamila, who hold me accountable, no matter how often I stumble, even though it’s not their job or obligation….

To my brave nonbinary trans femme godchild in all their struggling against unnecessary, unjust, unfair opposition…..

And to the rest of my girlfriends and femme friends, both those who struggle for others and those who struggle for themselves.

On this International Women’s Day, I see you and the work — paid and unpaid, valued and undervalued, hard and too often thankless — that you do towards a better world.

Thank you.

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