More

Fear is powerful. So are doughnuts. Here's how one woman is using them.

'I went in with a super open heart, with a super open mind, and just let happen what was going to happen.'

Fear is powerful. So are doughnuts. Here's how one woman is using them.

This is Mona Haydar. Care for a doughnut? Cup of coffee?

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.


Earlier this month, in response to some anti-Muslim rhetoric that's been making the rounds, she decided to set up shop outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, library to offer up some free coffee, doughnuts, and conversation.

"Today I stepped out of my comfort zone and stood out in a public space holding a box of donuts in front of signs that my husband Sebastian made," she wrote on her Facebook wall.

The response from the people who stopped to talk to her was overwhelming — in a good way.

"Everyone who stopped to talk to us was so kind and sweet," she wrote. "'Thanks for doing this' was the most common comment and often followed by, 'I'm sorry about what's happening in our country right now. It makes me so sad.' One woman was on the verge of tears and wanted to know when we were coming back so she could bring a box of donuts for us to give out."

"What's happening in our country" is scary.

Ever since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, life has become increasingly difficult for Muslims like Mona. Anti-Islamic sentiment is running rampant; with mosques burning and regular, everyday people being stalked by armed "protesters," it's bad news.

Armed protesters stage a demonstration in front of the Islamic Association of North Texas at the Dallas Central Mosque on Dec. 12, 2015, in Richardson, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

But Mona's determined to not let fear win.

And that starts with education.

"Initially, I thought I was going to get a lot of negativity, we were going to face a lot of Islamophobia. And I was going into it with that mindset," Mona told NPR. "Then I decided, you know what, I really can't do this if I'm expecting people to be negative. Because I'm not a negative person. I'm a super bubbly, happy person. I'm really friendly, I'm really nice, I'm really smiley; why should I expect anything less from other folks?"

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

In addition to answering people's questions in person, she fielded some questions over on her Facebook page as well.

One person asked for clarifications about sections of the Quran that call for violence.

Mona replied:

"I believe in Love and a God who inspires me to Love more deeply and more compassionately! Thanks for asking!"

Another asked why Muslim leaders "aren't doing more to end the violence/thinking of the radical members of your religion who believe in all the killing/terrorism?"

Mona answered:

"I'm not seeing a good answer for that either! But since most Muslims are normal and super nonviolent, we can't very well just bomb them ... that's kind of counter productive because that's what they're doing, bombing people I mean. I believe in Love! And [the] power of Love! I truly believe that when we move from a place of Love, we can collectively heal the hurt in the world! I don't mean it in any kind of abstract way. I mean it in a brain power, centering all our brain function, all the time creating new neural pathways and synaptic responses of LOVE!"

Another asked how non-Muslims can help break down the rough climate they find themselves in.

Mona wrote:

"We're doing all the goodness right now by having this conversation and inviting more love into our lives. That's all you and I have control over right now and if we can help ourselves embody and be LOVE then this love will heal the world! I agree! Make love! Not war!"


Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

Of course, Mona can't speak for all Muslims — but that's kind of the point.

Her personal interpretation of her religion may not perfectly align with someone else's. The problem is that, too often, we look at the acts of a few and attribute them to an entire group of people. ISIS doesn't speak for all Muslims any more than the Westboro Baptist Church or Army of God speak for all Christians. We can't be so afraid and distrusting of one another. That's not what this country is supposed to stand for.

Don't give in to hate. Don't give in to fear. Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with someone who believes in something different from you; you'll be surprised what you can learn.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less