This is a Revolutionary period in our society and is not a new fight.
The non-black individuals in our communities have had the privilege of being able to ignore the universal issue of institutionalized racism for decades. This is not by any means some new issue that has “popped-up.” What is new, is the positive pressure from society to be a part of this movement rather than to remain silent.
It’s great that everyone is either passionately joining this cause or being positively pressured into joining a cause that is 100% necessary. However, what is important to recognize here is that while this cause is #popular and #trending it is easy to be excited about being a part of an online call to reform. It’s easy to share a post a few times saying black lives matter to be a part of a trend. What isn’t easy is to consistently call out racism and stand with an unpopular opinion everyday and not just when social justice is trending.
So what can you do to truly make a different in our community? How can you be part of #blacklivesmatter when it isn’t trending anymore and people get tired of protesting and marching for a cause they have the privilege of forgetting is an issue? Here are a few ways that you can call out racism in our communities and stand with our black brothers and sisters.
1. Change the way you speak and Call out the way others speak about black people
Our words are so powerful. The words we use to describe situations and people may seem harmless; especially when certain expressions are so deeply rooted into our cultural norms. This can’t be our excuse anymore. Check yourself, your family members and the people closest to you. Analyze the words you use and how you would feel if that language was directed to you. Call out the family members that tell you not to get “too dark,” with the tone that something will be wrong if you reach a certain depth of color. Call out the people in your life that say “She should choose better” when she wants to marry a black man. The words we use enforce our learned Prejudices. It’s time to unlearn….
2. Check your masjids and other muslim run organizations that are a part of your life.
Take a look at your local masjids that you spend the most time in. Does the imam practice anti-racism in his own life consistently? Do they discuss issues with racism within the community or are they silent? Are black muslims who enter a mosque welcomed or treated with skepticism? Do the local muslim organizations in your community have a diverse board? Do they actively speak out against racism and create a safe place for our black community?
3. Educate Yourself
We are not perfect. None of us are and never will be. This means that we will ALWAYS have room to grow. No one is exempt from this. There are soo many resources to continuously learn about the toxic effects of institutionalized racism on our society as a whole. What affects a portion of our community should affect us all when we are standing up for all parts of our community on a daily basis.
4. Don’t EVER Be Silent
Keep speaking up. Even when the nation isn’t excited about it anymore, keep speaking out against racism in all forms. Whether it’s police brutality or a snarky comment from a family member, don’t be quiet anymore. This is how we change our communities. By taking an intrinsic look at ourselves and always striving to do better.
Educating ourselves is the key to overcoming all obstacles. Are you ready to be an active advocate for the black brothers and sisters in your communities? Great! Start with looking intrinsically, acknowledging your privileges and learning more about the affects of white supremacy in the lives of black people and take responsibility for how you have unconsciously contributed. Feel free to share these resource with others in your life who could use them!
Layla Saad’s Book on White Supremacy and how to unpack your biases is a great place to start. Get your copy here.
Read the FYI’s (Family, Youth Institute) article on Uplifting Muslim Black Youth.
Read the Anti Racism Guide for White Muslims here
In order to reduce feelings of isolation, it is important to share our stories and not keep them silent. We support each other when we can connect through our experience and know that we aren’t alone. If you have a story you’d like to share with us, feel free to do so! Send us a message. The stories can be anonymous if you would like them to be.
Thank you for this submission that will remain anonymous:
Wouldn’t You Be Happier With A Doll That Was Pretty Like You?
“There are so many racists undertones within our communities and cultures (Muslim and non-Muslim) that are considered normal and acceptable.
My mother’s uncle would constantly tell his children that if they drank too much coffee as an adult they would “turn black.”
When I was no more than 4 years old and picked a black doll at a store that I thought was so beautiful, the woman at the register asked me “Wouldn’t you be happier with a doll that was pretty like you?”
When I was a sales clerk, a black man walked into our store and my manager told me “Make sure to keep an eye on him, they like to do you dirty.”
All of these little things you can easily excuse when you don’t have to suffer the pain or hold onto trauma from this type of treatment. You can brush off the first by saying “Oh thats’s just how he was raised. Of course it’s not true, it’s just the culture.” The second with, “Oh she just wanted you to pick something that you could identify with.” The third with, “There’s nothing wrong with being cautious.”
These constant justifications of blatant racism make me unbelievably angry. It’s easy to brush it off as a white woman. So many people have an ENDLESS stream of excuses for why it’s not a big deal. But here’s the thing. It is absolutely a big deal. These little comments and “innocent” perceptions get passed on generation to generation and are constantly perceived to be excusable when they are so hurtful and damage the bonds that we could have in our communities.
Stop excusing these things and pretending like they don’t stem from a much larger issue: the acceptance of institutionalized racism within our societies! Call it what it is. It’s not “culture,” “thoughtfulness,” or “caution.”
It’s called Racism and it ends with the coming generations insh’Allah.