I did not make it to the Sheraton (out of solidarity with the workers) and did not make it to the Radisson either because I was not feeling well. I did get an update on what happened from some brothers who attended.
Brother Amir informed me that Imam Zaid Shakir mentioned the strike and the conditions of the Sheraton workers before every talk from the Radisson which is very commendable. Especially given, as commenters have pointed out, ISNA and those young people who grew-up in ISNA either have no knowledge of the fact that they benefit from the Labor Movement or are steeped in a caste-lite mentality.
An African-American brother and friend of mine mentioned to me that he saw only a handful of non-immigrant Muslims or their children. Those that he did see were white Muslims married to Desi or Arab sisters who were basically assimilating into the culture of their women (he did not add, as I do now, that Islamically lineage is passed down from the father). He told me that in his mind what he was seeing was an example that Islam in America is on two different trajectories and that it is not necessarily a bad thing. African-American Muslims and Muslims such as myself are just not going to ever see the world or Islamic activism in the way that ISNA does. I am never going to be comfortable in a deep-suburban masjid full of clean-shaven doctors and hijab-less women in which the biggest religious event they have as an interfaith gathering.
As an example of this division the brother told me that at the convention an immigrant brother from India said “15% of Muslims live in India. So we should take 15% of all the money raised by Muslims here and send it to India.”
Now, I am sure that brother thought he made a lot of sense. Just like brothers who say we should send all of the resources from the Muslim community here to Palestine or wherever do as well. But, the fact of the matter is, you are not going to get that many American-Muslim converts or their children who think it is a good idea to neglect community-building and infrastructure in America, where it is sorely needed, to send it halfway across the world. The money raised in our communities for the most part needs to stay local as the vast-majority of Muslim communities in America don’t even have the basics they need to prosper.
I am not trying to strike division between immigrants and the indigenous. Some organizations do better than others. AS a result of the recognition of this problem the Muslim American Society set-up the Freedom Foundation with Imam Mahdi Bray.