It’s not easy to talk about anti-blackness in the Muslim community, but for many Muslims around the United States, racism has been an unaddressed issue within their communities.
Even though slightly less than one-third of American Muslims are black, according to Pew Research Center, American Muslims are most often represented in the media as Arab or South Asian immigrants.
The silencing and dismissal of black Muslims in Muslims communities is a well-known secret in many American communities.
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The killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police office sparked high profile demonstrations against racism across the United States and necessary conversations around anti-blackness in Minnesota’s estimated 150,000-member Muslim community.
According to Sahan Journal, a video showing racist comments by American Muslims came up after the death of George Floyd.
Since the surfacing of this video and the heightened tensions around race in this country, Minnesota leaders have been speaking up about eliminating racism in the Muslim community.
Imam Asad Zaman, Executive Director of Muslim American Society of Minnesota, encouraged people in a Facebook post to expose and rid racism from their community.
Although anti-blackness permeates throughout each ethnic culture from around the world, black American Muslims have a unique experience unlike any other demographic of people.
Black Muslims Struggle
In addition to implicit and explicit racism towards black American Muslims as a result of their skin color, black American Muslims (direct descendants of American slaves) experience additional structural barriers, such as disparities in healthcare, education, and housing.
According to an article written by the Atlantic, Kameelah Rashad, Black Muslim chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, shared, some Muslims believe “we shouldn’t talk about anti-blackness within the community, because we’re under siege by Islamophobes. This is not the right time to air internal laundry,” Rashad said.
But “if I have to contend with anti-Muslim bigotry outside of the Muslim community, and within my own community, I’m having to push back on anti-black racism, I’m kind of fighting a war on two fronts.”
Imam Makram El-Amin of Minneapolis’ Masjid An-Nur mosque, said people of faith should be part of a diverse front against racism. But, he said, “voices of those who’ve been subject to this oppression — in this case, African Americans — should be the leading voices,” Star Tribune Magazine reported.
In an exclusive interview hosted by Our Three Winners with AboutIslam.net reporter, Sabria Mills, she said: “We must also be agitators and speak truth to power. In our faith, one of the strongest demonstrations of faith is to speak truth against injustice. We haven’t done enough in our communities to speak against racism.”