Talk to Me | Qasim Rashid | Book Review

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For as long as I’ve known Qasim Rashid online, he’s been a tireless advocate for religious and ethnic minorities. But what I find even more compelling about him is the manner in which he engages with other people around what are often difficult subjects.

In the opening of his new book, Talk To Me: Changing the Narrative on Race, Religion and Education he says, “A person must choose to elevate his or her speech beyond offensiveness and vulgarity—beyond deliberately insulting others for the sake of insulting. And this is what I’m asking you to choose to do. No human-crafted law can dictate, much less enforce, such a standard.”  In this day and age, when millions take to the internet every day to vent their frustrations on strangers in unhealthy and decidedly anti-social ways, Rashid’s call to action is simple but profound. He asks us to elevate our conversations and set our own rules of engagement, based on respect.

Talk To Me is a fascinating guided tour through the lives and experiences of a handful of people Rashid has known and worked with over the years. Rashid’s own reflections are intertwined with the words of these contributors who share the challenges and successes they’ve had engaging in the larger American society as minorities. Some of the stories are heartrending, others are inspiring. All of them are real and very, very human.

Among those represented in Talk To Me are Muslims from various sects, Atheists, Jews and African-American leaders. The book is a kaleidoscope of individual experiences, and the very essence of what American pluralism is about. Those of us who love diversity and see it as one of our society’s greatest strengths will revel in this book.

But those who are skeptical about pluralism may find it the most valuable. Talk To Me is a beautiful look into the hopes, dreams and struggles of fellow Americans who are challenged by their minority status. It’s an opportunity for all of us to read stories across lines of ethnicity, culture and religion through their own words; a rare glimpse into the lives of people we may never come into contact with in our day-to-day lives. It’s what America (and the world) needs more of right now.

Get your copy of Talk To Me: Changing the Narrative on Race, Religion and Education on Amazon.com. Release date is Tuesday, May 17, 2016.