American Muslims, Black and non-Black, are engaging in tough conversations around racial equity and representation in the Muslim community.
At a time of racial tensions and protests, American Muslims found themselves on the frontlines of tackling racism and anti-blackness in the Muslim community.
In recent weeks, many Muslims in the US have joined Black Lives Matter solidarity movements and rallies around this country. They have spoken against racial inequality in sermons, lectures, and statements.
For one of the first times in American history, Muslims from black and non-black communities are engaging in tough dialogue in an attempt to eradicate the long history of racial injustice, NBC News reported.
Margari Hill, executive director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (ARC), says she has seen a surge of interest, questions, and demand from Muslim communities for her expertise.
Can she look at a statement or provide topics for a program? Are there resources in Arabic or Bengali? Is it more appropriate to say Black or African American? Can she talk about anti-Blackness?
These lines of questions are a great starting place for social change. But many wonder if these conversations will lead to deeper and larger changes and a national reckoning.
At the Islamic Society of North America, where the current elected board of 10 directors has no African Americans, executive director Basharat Saleem said the organization has been working to boost diversity but acknowledged that more must be done.
African American Muslims have been well represented as speakers at ISNA events, he said. Yet, attendance from people in that community at annual conventions has been low.
“We have to do more work to basically reach out to the community,” Saleem said. “Also, (the) same thing has to happen from that community.”
Although these dialogues and exchanges are widening the viewpoint of many Muslims around the world, it can be really exhausting for African American Muslims.
Ubaydullah Evans, resident scholar for the American Learning Institute for Muslims, says he has experienced “interpersonal racism,” from some Muslims. Still, other non-Black Muslims “have always sought to build community,” and work with African Americans, he said.
Editor’s Note: AboutIslam Editor Sabria Mills contributed to this article.