Whatever the subject in current events – whether political, cultural, economic, religious, or racial – in America the pendulum swings to the far left, far right and very few in betweens.
For the American Muslim, life is like a hot bed of coals about to ignite, especially for the indigenous African American Muslims who comprise the ethnic majority of Muslims in this country. We have experienced discrimination for over 5 decades and four generations of living as Muslims in the United States. As Islamophobia grows and Trumpism makes race and ethnicity the basis of inclusion or exclusion from his “base”, the problems for us as Americans emphasizes that we take sides nationally and globally as these problems escalate and demand that we do so.
Muslims know that #AllLivesMatter. However, we must champion Muslim lives particularly, as it is part of our creed. Thus, we march in protest against the injustices and genocide across the world like the Rohingya in Burma, Xinjiang Muslims in China, the Muslims in Kashmir and all others throughout the world. Nonetheless, we cannot forget our racial connections and struggles as citizens in America, especially as the issues encroach upon our very doorsteps.
There are people who hate us because we are Muslims and Americans of African descent, irrespective of the fact that we are patriotic citizens. What are we to do? Do we take up the banner of #BlackLivesMatter or support the NFL members who protest their members being called Sons of B’s by the President of the United States because they protest racism, murder, discrimination and prejudice? Do we support movements like “Say Their Names” which calls on society to remember the victims of systemic and vigilante violence by law enforcement and others against people of color? People like Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and countless others. Do we Muslims do our part to save the moral fiber of our society and to not forget the stories of the deceased, but amplify them as part of American and black history and its future?
For all Muslims of America, particularly those with brown skin of various shades, our lives are at the center of current events. It is now essential to see kufis and hijabs amongst the crowds that protest the injustice, brutality, systemic murders of our kinsmen based merely on skin color and religious choice. They need our support now, and we will need their support later.
In the fictional movie, The Siege starring Denzel Washington, innocent Muslim citizens in New York City were gathered in internment camps just like the Japanese were during WWII. At the end of the movie, the Muslims were eventually freed by crowds of Americans who stood together against the oppression and injustice being dealt. This movie’s fictional climax comes to mind when one thinks of the possibilities in real time, the mindset of government, and the lack of regard for “never again”.