MuslimARC has started a much needed conversation on being #BlackinMSA. For decades, Black Muslim Students have expressed feelings of marginalization in the very MSAs meant to provide a safe space for all Muslim students. We encourage you to read the following letter from MuslimARC, which includes advice for MSAs to work to develop solidarity.
The following is an excerpt from the letter, which you can read in its entirety at MuslimARC’s website.
We understand that MSA leaders are often under multiple stressors. We remind them here: Islamophobia is but a branch on the tree of racism. To allow racism to flourish in a Muslim student organization is severely damaging to us politically, socially, and most importantly, spiritually. It is in all of our best interests for dunya and mandatory for our akhirah to seek to rectify the racism we find in our communities.
Through the hashtag, it became clear that Arab/South Asian millennials perpetuate marginalization with the idea that racism, bigotry, and caste are a thing of the past within their community. After receiving an outpouring of comments regarding the erasure of Black Muslim students within the broad framework of MSAs, we have provided a brief list of recommendations in the hopes that we can continue to work to develop solidarity under the banner of Islam and dignity.
- For umbrella Muslim youth organizations like MSA National and its chapters: compile demographics of the leadership of MSA chapters and publish the findings for transparency.
- Increase non-Arab/South Asian leadership by 30% by 2017
- Organize Black-led panels and open forums to discuss racial and ethnic inclusivity at MSAs. MSAs that are unfamiliar with racism in the Muslim community should begin by hosting discussion after watching panels from MuslimARC’s Heritage Month series (available on YouTube). MSAs that do not have diversity within their organization should not attempt to host events without guidance. We ask that you seek a consultation with MuslimARC before moving to host a problematic event.
- Publish a statement of solidarity with the Student Black Out movement taking place now in America. Research and demonstrate awareness and support for what is happening and why. Examples include statements issued by MSA West, the Mizzou Muslim student organization, and the Muslim student organization at Wellesley College.
- Increase events and activities centered around Black Muslim narratives and issues by 20% by 2017
- Increase fundraising drives and awareness campaigns for relief efforts in the African Diaspora by 20% by 2017
- Implement cultural sensitivity and anti-racism training classes for MSA leaders and members. Trainings are available through MuslimARC.
- Curate and enact cultural codes of conduct that specify zero tolerance for the use of racial slurs and jokes, and call for genuine and representative diversity. No one should ever be using the N-word in a Muslim space on campus.
- Highlight prominent Black Muslim history and historical figures – including but focusing on individuals other than Bilal (RA) and Malcolm X – in and out of February and Black History Month
- Ask the Black student associations on campus how you can amplify and support their leadership in the months to come