Political Advocacy Toolkit
Dear Honorable (First and Last name of your representative)
(Address of your representative)
(City), (State) (Zipcode)
My name is (your first and last name), and I am a resident of (your city and state). I am writing to you today to assert my unwavering support of the Muslim American community in the United States, and urge you to use your political platform to advance the civic, political, and religious rights of the nearly 3.3 million American Muslims who face rising tides of islamophobia, bigotry, and prejudice in this country.
Due to the lack of political capital that the American Muslim community wields, warped language in social and political spheres categorizes the Muslim community as a singular, homogenous, and monolithic entity that is uncharacteristically represented by the reprehensible actions of a few abroad who share no commonalities besides the name of their religion. Since 9/11, American Muslims have dedicated a renewed effort in political activity to refute increasing levels of prejudice and discrimination in US laws targeting the Muslim community, such as the Patriot Act, the Muslim Ban, and other securitized agendas of non-Muslim lawmakers. Despite this activism, heightened levels of biased rhetoric and misinformation about the Muslim faith still permeate legislation that unevenly targets a community that already lacks political agency because of their perceived danger.
I am writing to you today to address the lack of cultural literacy amongst policymakers, and suggest several reforms that would help the American Muslim community achieve the levels of political and social agency that they are denied based on their faith. I encourage you to improve this cultural illiteracy by including some of the many credible and qualified Muslims in the policy decisions that affect their community, rather than relying on the incomplete testimonies of non-Muslim “experts” who lack a diverse understanding of Islam and the American Muslim community. By doing this, we can more effectively change the securitized rhetoric that encompasses discussions about Muslim Americans, incorporating a more holistic understanding of the varied and intersectional identities of fellow American Muslims. Lastly, I encourage you to create programs that empower community growth and involve Muslims in the beautifully diverse fabric of American civic and political life, because this will combat the fragmented understanding of the Muslim community that ultimately prompts the unwarranted, bigoted attitudes that American Muslims encounter today.
Thank you for all that you,
(Your city, state, and zipcode)
So, you want to contact your elected representatives. We get it, it’s confusing and intimidating. Luckily, we at WISE Up are here to help. You have tons of options for contacting these people. Our aim is to simplify this process so your concerns are heard.
The United States was built upon the principles of democracy, and the American identity depends on people like you participating in government, voicing your opinions. That’s why it’s so important to reach out to your elected officials and tell them how you feel, because after all, their job is to enact change on your behalf.
Here are the steps for contacting your elected representatives: Choose your method of communication.
Whether you give a call, send an email, craft a letter, or attend a City Hall or Town Hall meeting, just making contact with your representative is a simple a vital way to have your voice heard. Contact information and committee meeting schedules can usually be found on your state’s official legislative website.
Plan what you want to say.
It should be specific and concise in addressing your concerns. Personal stories of how pieces of legislation affect you yield the strongest value.
Whichever method you choose, it is important to get across the following points: Give a short introduction. Who are you? Where do you live?State the issue you want addressed. If it’s a specific bill, it helps to add the identification number (H.R.__ OR S. __)
What is your personal history with the piece of legislation?
What are your fears if a certain piece of legislation is or is not passed?
What is your recommended course of action?
Give a brief thank you and farewell.
Our suggestion: Giving a copy of WISE Up to your elected officials fosters a strong relationship of support between you, as a community member, and your government representatives.
Find out who your representatives are, and send it off!
Whether it be your senator, congressman or woman, mayor, or city council member, you have various resources to hear your concerns. Below, you’ll find links that will tell you who these representatives are, and how to get in contact with them.
WHO TO CONTACT Now you know what you’re going to say. But who do you send it to? Here’s a list we’ve compiled of all your options so you know the best person to hear your voice!
SENATE On policy proposed by the Federal government and other nation-wide issues, you’ll want to contact your senator. When suggesting a specific course of action, you can propose that your senator vote no on a certain bill, withhold universal consent to delay the progression of a piece of legislation, or filibuster an action to stop its advancement.
You can find your Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
HOUSE OF REPS Congressmen and congresswomen serve two-year terms as representatives of specific congressional districts based on population. Their jobs include introducing bills, resolutions, and amendments, as well as serving on committees focused on specific legislative areas. You can find the representative of your district or the various committees, and choose from there where your message can go.
Find your House representatives here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
GOVERNOR To participate in the conversation about legislation specific to your state on issues such as the environment, the criminal justice system, statewide education, infrastructure, and economic development, contact your governor.
Find your Governor here: https://www.usa.gov/state-governor
CITY COUNCIL On issues that relate to your city of residence, you can contact your City Council member. The City Council members correspond to council districts. On each City Council website they will also provide the contact methods for different committees, such as the Committees on Immigration, Public Housing, Courts and Legal Services, Education, and Transportation, etc. You can easily find the vast collection of these committees online on your City Council website, with the corresponding public meeting times, schedules, and locations that discuss each area of concern.
LOCAL OFFICIALS Your local officials are your Mayor, County Executive, and town officials, which are based on your county and town of residence. For questions about issues such as a school board or town budget, you can write to your Mayor or County Executive, and attend open school board meetings to participate in your local legislation.
Find your local officials here: http://explorer.naco.org/
See? You have tons of options. Hopefully this clarified the process for you. When in doubt, you can always shoot a representative’s office an email and they’ll direct you to the right place. Our biggest piece of advice, however, is just participate! Active citizens are what makes this country great, and your public servants are here to listen to you. To reiterate, here’s a final checklist to help you become an activist in your community, state, or country. Good luck!
Political Action Checklist
Identify the issue you wish to resolve
Find your representative who is involved in this issue
Figure out the best mode of communication
Congrats, you’re an advocate! It wasn’t that hard, was it?