‘My Win Is Their Win’: Deqa Dhalac Makes History as Maine’s First Black, Muslim Somali-American Mayor

Thirty years ago, Deqa Dhalac fled her homeland of Somalia, right before the start of a devastating civil war which still lingers on. Last December, she made history when she became America’s first Somali American mayor; South Portland’s 11th woman mayor (the city’s first female mayor was in 1985); and the first African, Muslim, Somali American mayor in Maine and South Portland—a city where 90 percent of the population is white.

“It says a lot when six white Americans support and elect a Black Muslim immigrant to be their mayor,” said Dhalac about other South Portland City Council members.

February 2022 Reads for the Rest of Us

Each month, I provide Ms. readers with a list of new books being published by writers from historically excluded groups. The aims of these lists are threefold:

1. I want to do my part in the disruption of what has been the acceptable “norm” in the book world for far too long—white, cis, heterosexual, male;
2. I want to amplify amazing works by writers who are women, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, APIA/AAPI, international, LGBIA+, TGNC, queer, disabled, fat, immigrant, Muslim, neurodivergent, sex-positive or of other historically marginalized identities—you know, the rest of us; and
3. I want to challenge and encourage you all to buy, borrow and read them! 

20 Years After the First Detainees Arrived at Guantanamo, “The Mauritanian” Depicts One Innocent Man’s Fight for Freedom

It’s been 20 years since the first detainees arrived at Guantanamo Bay. Adapted from the bestselling memoir Guantanamo Diary, The Mauritanian reveals how America’s intense need for retribution in the aftermath of 9/11 resulted in the imprisonment and torture of hundreds of Muslim men at Guantanamo Bay. More importantly, though, it highlights why President Joe Biden must indefinitely close the notoriously violent prison. 

Muslim Men, Take This Opportunity to Learn from Muslim Women

For the first time in many of their lives, Muslim men can’t go to the mosque. They can’t feel the peace and serenity, the connection with God. They must create this for themselves at home, a place that is now a hive of activity; adults home from jobs, children home from school. Muslim men are experiencing, for the first time, what women have come to expect.

“Muslim Women Banned for No Legitimate Reason”: Containing COVID-19 is Not An Excuse For Sexism

Many mosques have cancelled all services for all congregants—regardless of gender. However, at some point the lower level of restriction—and its explicit ban on women—may go back into effect. As a public health crisis looms large, it may not be a good time to bring up concerns of sexism. Perhaps there is never a “good” time to address discrimination, so the time is always right, and right now.