Justin Normand of Irving, Texas, wasn’t happy with how the election turned out. However, he’s not one to wallow in unproductive sorrow. So the sign shop manager did what came naturally—made a sign—and then stood in front of his local mosque to wave at passersby.
The sign read: “You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America.”
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Photos of Normand and the sign went viral over the weekend, and now the 53-year-old has taken to Facebook to explain why he felt his actions were important.
“For me, this wasn’t about expressing agreement; I remain Presbyterian, not Muslim,” he says. “It wasn’t about demonstrating my outrage to right-wing drivers driving down Esters Road in front of the mosque. I can never, and will never, change any of the haters… This was about binding up the wounded. About showing compassion and empathy for the hurting and fearful among us. Or, in some Christian traditions, this was about washing my brother’s feet. This was about my religion, not theirs.”
Normand is also asking others to do the same. “Find a group marginalized by the haters in this current era we find ourselves in,” he says. “Then, find a way to express your acceptance to that group in a physically present way, as opposed to a digital one.”
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There are many big and small ways to help the marginalized. You can start here.
Jessica Machado is the IRL editor of the Daily Dot. Previously, she was an associate editor at Rolling Stone. Her work has been published in the Washington Post, Elle, Vice, Salon, BuzzFeed, Guernica, Bitch, Bust, the Cut, the Awl, the Toast, among others.