What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here's what this 'peace deal' means for Palestinians.

What The ‘Peace Deal’ Really Means For Palestinians

Israel will halt annexation of Palestinian territories in exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the UAE. Here’s what this ‘peace deal’ means for Palestinians.

By

Samer Hassan
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

The leaders of the Zionist government of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a deal that would normalize relations between the two governments. While the UAE has long maintained quiet relations with Israel, this public deal sets a dangerous precedence for the Middle East: one that says, we don’t care about your human rights track record, because profit and strategic cooperation trumps all.

Israel has shown the world that its efforts to annex Palestinian land in the Occupied West Bank were not only met with impunity but ultimately rewarded by a public treaty. One that establishes friendly relations between an autocracy that purports to have Palestinians’ best interest at heart, and a Zionist government that has referred to Palestinians as barbarians and vermin.

Israel has codified its unequal treatment of Palestinians. By building Jewish-only roads in the occupied territories, encircling whole villages inside a net of concrete walls, and systematically imprisoning hundreds of Palestinian children, the Zionist state hammers down all efforts to build a viable Palestinian future. 

According to the United Nations, illegal Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians has skyrocketed by over 70% in 2020 alone. This is a government that has bulldozed Palestinian attempts to build a hospital for COVID-19 patients, maintains over 147 heavily armed checkpoints, and continues to expand its separation wall deep inside Palestinian land. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised this new deal by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazal Tov.” There is no peace in the Middle East because governments that ally themselves with the West are allowed to murder their inhabitants with impunity while pointing the finger at others that dare to seek justice. 

“During a call with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu, an agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories,” said Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, strategically adding, “The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.”

Netanyahu, Bin Zayed, and Donald Trump released a joint statement saying they hoped the “historic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East.”

To a Palestinian like me, this treaty has unequivocally ignored the calls of my people — a call that demands the world hold Israel accountable for its rampant destruction of Palestinian homes, murder of Palestinians who dare to organize, and efforts to label us terrorists and anti-semites when we call out Israel’s racist laws designed to keep us in perpetual poverty and dependency. By using the false narrative that this agreement will bring peace, the UAE signals to the world that it truly does not have the interest of Palestinians at heart. Crown Prince Bin Zayed is now officially complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. 

Middle Eastern governments need to show Israel that its efforts to apply sovereignty over the Occupied West-Bank comes with international consequences like sanctions, not treaties.


Samer Hassan is Palestinian activist who graduated with a degree in Political Science from Columbia University.

Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

What does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? We explore how Muslims with a plant-based diet navigate Eid celebration.

Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

What does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? We explore how Muslims with a plant-based diet navigate Eid celebration.

By

Mohamed Alagteaa
Art - Shayma Al-Shiri

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

If there’s a word that could describe the world right now, it might be “conscious.”
We are living through a cultural shift of how we, as humans collectively, aspire to live and be. This means a reexamination of how we work, travel, communicate, eat and all social pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that builds the picture of the society we aspire to live in. 

As usual, driving these winds of change are millennial and Gen-Z Muslims who are pushing towards a more comprehensively sustainable lifestyle – and one that might include a plant-based diet. 

Debates around changing our food habits are intense, but what’s undeniable are the overall benefits that switching to plant-based can have on our health and wellbeing, as well as for planet Earth – a winning combination of some of the most pressing concerns of young people today

Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, may lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels and help treat chronic diseases. These are just some of the reasons that pushed Sara Zayed, a writer and medical assistant, to change her lifestyle after her father passed away.

“My father passed away several years ago of a heart attack, and as a plant-based diet is the only diet that has been shown to reverse heart disease, it’s more important to me than ever to prioritize quality nutrition,” she said. 

Zayed uses Instagram to educate her followers on plant-based nutrition and what she calls “lifestyle medicine.” She also emphasizes how abandoning her old eating behaviors is rooted in upholding her commitment to Allah saying, “ Our bodies are an amanah (trust)… It’s our responsibility to take care of our bodies and treat them with respect so that we can live up to our potential as Muslims. I don’t believe it is Islamic to live a lifestyle that encourages the development of chronic disease.”


 

Islam and a plant-based lifestyle

So, what does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? Seemingly, nothing.

There are no apparent mentions in the Quran or Sunnah regarding  a solely plant-based lifestyle. According to many scholars, it is neither forbidden nor advised, and since it does not harm you or others, it is your choice.

However, it is one thing to not eat a specific food because of your preferences, or because you disagree with its production practices, and another to believe it is actually unislamic or haraam (forbidden). 

As societies move forward and people become more vigilant about how and what they eat,  the future of food could drastically change, and legislation would need to adapt. There might be a law that prohibits the production and consumption of meat, on health and environmental grounds. Here, a predicament is presented, because the Quran permits the consumption of meat as Surah al-Naḥl, verse 5 suggest:

 

“And cattle has He created for you, in which there is warmth and [other] uses, and whereof you eat.” – Quran 16:5

 

 

Most might imagine the prospect of a legalized ban on the consumption of meat as  impossible, but it opens a space of discussion on nuanced perspectives regarding our way of living as a Muslim society now and in the future.

Some people maybe conflicted with Islam and its permissibility with eating meat knowing that the Quran and Hadiths reveal many examples that paint a picture of mercy and compassion to animals. 

In a Hadith, Abu Umama said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising.”

It is important to understand that while meat consumption is allowed in Islam, animal welfare is demanded. There are guidelines that must be followed to consider meat halal, which also tend to inflict minimal pain such as the need for the slaughter to be quick and made in one attempt.  The animal must also be fed, watered and comforted as well.

The meat we find in shops and supermarkets is not produced in such a way. We know of the cruel and inhumane practices the food and beverage industry use to provide the demand for meat and animal related products. So, can we as Muslims consciously eat meat and other products with total disregard to their production methods? 


What about Eid?

These types of discussions also involve one of the holiest occasions Muslims celebrate – Eid al-Adha. Each year, Muslims across the globe commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s  willingness to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismael, in obedience to Allah’s command, by sacrificing an animal. Most scholars believe the practice is a Sunnah, a tradition that should be observed by those who are able, while others deem it as obligatory.

Muslim who wish to follow a plant-based or environmentally conscious diet are faced with the challenge of navigateing a special event engraved in the Muslim identity. Some call for abandoning the sacrifice entirely and focusing instead on the festive celebration, giving of charity and spiritual reflection. 

In his essayAn Islamic Perspective Against Animal Sacrifice,” Shahid ‘Ali Muttaqi describes the purpose of Eid as an inner spiritual state that does not involve animal sacrifice, stressing the need to contextualize the event. Muttaqi argues that the sacrifice was not established by Allah but was adopted by Muslims at that time in an attempt to transform the slaughter of animals for food, which was a survival necessity back then, into a spiritual ceremony. 

Muttaqi believes that since meat is not a necessity for survival for most people in our time, neither is the Eid sacrifice. Others, however, call for a different approach to deal with this problem. Zayed, for example, believes we need to determine what an appropriate equivalent would be for the community, and how to implement it, but “this is not to say to abolish the practice,” she affirms.

 

Not Our Culture

Beyond the religious lens, there is also apprehension towards the change presented by the concept of refraining from certain traditional foods, which is the idea that vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based diets are a western construct that must be fought to uphold our cultural identity.  

Shahed Ezaydi, believes there is some truth to that, saying “I do think the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles have definitely been co-opted by the West, so other cultures may be reluctant to buy into it.” 

Ezaydi has been a vegetarian for over a year and didn’t face many difficulties in changing her lifestyle as her friends were supportive of her choice, mainly because of the widely known environmental impact meat production and consumption has on the planet. Just last year, a United Nations report suggested  that adhering to a plant-based diet could help fight global climate change. 

The real challenge for Ezaydi was at home. “My parents straight up laughed at me… I think they thought I was going through some phase.”

Elaf Alsharif,  a 21-year old vegan from Libya, shares a similar experience when facing her family about the decision to remove animal products from her diet. “My mom hated me going vegan, she would tell me every day that I would die of a vitamin deficiency,” she says. The two, however, stayed true to their own convictions and learned to adapt to each other.   When describing her mother’s stance now, Alsharif says, “She’s actually supportive now and has started making vegan meals. She even looks up new recipes and gets excited to try them on me.”

More than ever, our personal choices hold so much power in introducing new ways of living. It is  evident that we are moving towards uncharted territories with unprecedented possibilities. These possibilities demand our examination with new ideas and fresh perspectives, but also with firm beliefs and strong convictions. The balance between the two, and the respect required to have unconventional conversations is the key to exploring new realities where the Muslim identity might reside.

READ MORE: What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

Fourth Of July In A Time Not Worth Celebrating

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for a country that does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters?

By

Amirah Ahmed
Photo - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

 

The Fourth of July is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s what some may call an “American tradition” to jubilantly celebrate the day with firework shows, barbecues, and red, white, and blue printed everything. But for any American that doesn’t benefit from the privilege of a typical White identity, the day leaves a bitter after taste. 

 

As a Muslim woman, the claim of “independence” is incredulous to me. Independence in my definition does not include unrightful surveillance. It does not include the invasive procedures taken every time I enter an airport to ensure that my Muslim-ness doesn’t pose a threat to travelers. Independence is never in the sense of stolen autonomy that swells every time a Muslim woman’s hijab is torn from her head. There is no independence in the shame little Muslim boys feel when slurs are hurled at them in schools that are supposed to keep them safe. There was never independence in the bound hands of a Muslim man being deported to a land he’s never stepped foot in when he has every right to this “land of the free.” Does the independence garnered from Britain over 200 years ago still hold true for Americans today? I think not.

How can I take part in showcasing patriotism for this country when it does not guarantee safety for my Black brothers and sisters just trying to go for a run, reach for a wallet, or wear a black hoodie? Is it even morally acceptable to celebrate a country in a time when its leaders are okay with denying the sanctity of childrens’ lives simply because they were not born within the same borders? I don’t think so. There was no independence in the death of another Black man denied his right to live. There will never be independence in a mother’s cries for her baby as they are pulled away from each other. If there is independence in the ear splitting shriek of schoolchildren hiding behind textbooks with the barrel of a gun staring them down, then it’s not an independence I am willing to take pride in.

I yearn for the day that I can wear this country’s colors knowing that all its citizens are safe and valued. But that day is not today, nor can I see it in the near future. I want to raise my children in a country that goes out of its way to make sure they know that they are welcome too, in all their Muslim glory. I want to live in a country that will celebrate my veteran father regardless of his olive complexion and Muslim name. I want to celebrate a country that takes accountability for its past and strives to make up for it through more than just empty apologies and false promises for a better future.  

Take a look around you.: Is this the country your ancestors were dreaming of when they decided to take a chance at a better life? Does this country fight for all of your friends and family? This 4th of July weekend, don’t mindlessly scroll past the news stories of another preventable injustice without first finding out how you can use your own privilege to help out. If you are going to celebrate your patriotism this year, make sure you’re celebrating the ongoing fight for independence for the 40% of America that doesn’t happen to be White.

READ MORE: Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Human Rights Workers In Kabul Killed As Afghan Conflicts Continues

To some, this ramping cycle of death and destruction has led to an Orientalist view that death is somehow brushed off as commonplace in Afghanistan.

Human Rights Workers In Kabul Killed As Afghan Conflicts Continues

To some, this ramping cycle of death and destruction has led to an Orientalist view that death is somehow brushed off as commonplace in Afghanistan.

By

Ali M Latifi
Photo - Liu Heung Shing/AP

 

Kabul, Afghanistan – Fatima Khalil, 24, was on her way to work at Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) when the car she was traveling in exploded. Unknown to Khalil, a donor liaison officer at the AIHRC, and her driver, Jawid Folad, someone had attached a “sticky” bomb to their vehicle.

Both were killed in the blast. 

The attack is the latest in a month-long spur of violence in the capital that has cut through several generations. From mothers and children in a maternity clinic to worshippers and well-known mullahs in two mosques to the human rights workers, the last few weeks have shattered any remaining illusions of security in Kabul.

With each attack come harshly-worded government condemnations and promises of investigations, but the results (if any) seem to never be made public. In fact, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the NGO that ran the maternity that came under attack last month, cited that lack of information as the basis for their decision to close the maternity clinic.

“A month after the horrifying event, we know very little; the attack remains unclaimed,” MSF said of the decision to shutter the clinic after four years and more than 16,000 deliveries in 2019 alone.

Each of these attacks took place in well-known, crowded areas of Kabul, leading to further questions about how the nation’s capital can remain so insecure 20 years after the US-led invasion that brought billions of dollars in foreign aid with it.

Each attack has not only lowered the bar for how brazen and horrific the targets of violence in the country can get, but also begs the question of where exactly people can feel shielded from the conflict.

A clinic full of mothers and children in one of the city’s least-developed, overcrowded and under-served neighborhoods is no longer safe. Mosques where some of the nation’s most well-known mullahs preach are no longer safe. The car of a young human rights worker who had just returned from studying abroad is no longer safe. 

READ MORE: Attack At Mosque In Kabul During Friday Prayer Leaves Four Dead, Including Prayer Leader

There are more than 30,000 recorded cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), while thousands more go undocumented as they suffer silently at home. This also comes at a time when Public Health officials have been caught on video taking an $80,000 bribe and the Kabul government tries to fight off reports that 32 ventilators meant for Afghan patients were smuggled and sold across the Durand Line.

Taken as a whole, all of these elements show the devastating state of life in Afghanistan at a time when the Kabul government and the Taliban prepare for impending face-to-face talks as part of a February peace deal brokered between Washington and the armed group.

A day after the attack on Khalil and Folad, the human rights workers, clusters of young men and women sit and discuss what this all means.

 The talks go from how human rights workers, who were standing up against abuses of civilians by both the government and armed groups, could be targeted to the nature of martyrdom and what it means to die in an explosion.

“I just wonder how she felt, was she in pain,” a friend of Khalil’s who works for the government asks over and over again.

As they come and go, the 20 and 30-somethings, regardless of their religiosity, greet each other with a phrase often heard coming from the mouths of their elders in times of mourning: “We are all on this road,” they say.

Death is inevitable, but in Afghanistan that inevitability hangs overhead like an omnipresent phantasm.

“We could be killed walking down the street. We could be killed for going to the mosque. We could be killed at work, it’s something we accept by living here,” a photographer who grew up in neighboring Iran can be heard saying. 

To some, this ramping cycle of death and destruction has led to an Orientalist view that death, even violent death, is somehow brushed off as commonplace in Afghanistan. A modern interpolation of that bone chilling bon mot from the United States’ last failed war in Vietnam, “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner … Life is not important.”

But seeing the devastated families and friends crying in agony or holding on to any fleeting memory and memento and the hundreds of online tributes and statements of shock and disbelief, including from strangers, after each incident, that hawkish trope is easily dismantled.

The people of Afghanistan certainly value life and lament the loss of it, but now the question is what the belligerents in the conflict, from the government in Kabul — and their backers in the US and Europe — to the armed groups — commonly believed to be aided and abetted in Pakistan and Iran — will do to finally protect human life in a country that has seen far too much conflict.

The U.S. Education System Fails To Teach Black History

We are tired.

Authors – Nabeeha Asim & Najaha Nauf

The American Education system has made us believe we know everything we need to know – but this is far from the truth. We have learned more in the past week than we have in the past twelve years of the American public schooling system. It’s a shame that we weren’t taught about history in a more visceral and contextual manner. The fact that our education system has left loose ends about our relevant histories untied, and has created a supposedly seamless timeline that banks over movements of racial injustice and human rights is not necessarily astonishing but should very well be persecuted against. But who do we hold accountable when the whole world has suffered? 

In certain states in the U.S., the school system and board of education within that state creates the curriculum according to their desires of what they want the students to be learning. More often than not these states, “lose sight of the connection between what students learn in history and the civic ideals and values” that must actually be taught. Thus, there is more of an emphasis on the history of America rather than civics courses that are at most 1 year long. This disrupts both the teachings of actual relevant humanitarian crises’ in full context as well as the current system being delved into rather than just skimming over what students need to know. 

Our education system lacks the integral parts: students are meant to be learning something of value, enough to share their views and discuss them with their family and friends. Instead we’ve seen a near detrimental cycle of regurgitation of information, where lessons are only a pathway to examination questions and information is lost almost as soon as it is acquired. How many of us remember the specifics of what we learned when we were in high school, all the historical dates and lengthy names we spent our nights memorizing? A bit of a “polly want a cracker” situation, don’t you think? Like parakeets that mimic the common man.

Most of the things we have learned within our history classes categorize people by class, religion, race, sex, gender, and ethnicity but what we were never taught was that beyond all the titles and labels, we are all just humans.  

We are tired. Tired of learning about the same scot-free white history. Tired of learning about the Boston Tea Party. Tired of learning about Lee and Grant. Tired of learning about things that don’t matter beyond the four walls of our classrooms. History class did not tell us about the civil rights movement: our black neighbors did. History class did not tell us about Nelson Mandela’s years in prison: the non-fiction books no one touched in the library did. History class did not tell us about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.: an article on the origin of the Black Lives Matter movement did. 

We’ve been thrust into the world with barely any knowledge, minds filled with the names of kings and queens who don’t matter in a land governed by men to whom we don’t matter. 

But if history class has taught us anything, it’s that revolutions usually mean something unjust is happening. It means that there’s something being withheld from us, something that’s worth fighting for. It means we’re on the winning side if people in power are hiding in bunkers. 

We are a generation fed on historically inaccurate facts and knowledge that has little to no worth outside classrooms and examination halls. As for the couple dozen things we did learn that’s proven useful, credits are due to our curiosity and not the messy ordeal the government’s made of our education. We have passionate teachers and passionate learners to give credit to for the bare minimum knowledge we do carry around. The credit goes to the Internet for answering “not-related-to-the-curriculum” questions we asked our teachers but never got answers in return. The credit goes to the books, articles and people who actually cared to delve into and write about major issues within our societies. 

We come from culturally rich lands abundant with histories of their own, yet we are subjected to stories of white men who gained fame through theft of those very lands. Imagine sitting in a classroom where you are a minority, listening to an educator brood on about the great conquering of Asia by the British colonies. Imagine having to memorize paragraphs and witty one-liners about blood treaties: the very blood that happens to be running in your own veins as you recite each word. Chances are, you don’t have to imagine it. You’ve lived through it. We all have. 

Why couldn’t they teach us about the truth behind every revolution? About the Jim Crow Laws and how they paved the way for radical racism? Why do our history textbooks glorify the white man? 

“Until the lion learns to write, every story glorifies the hunter,” says an African proverb and it couldn’t be more relevant. Textbooks that glorify white men were written by white men and we’ve been taught these very stories to instill the idea that we are a people who must be “conquered” and “civilized” because of course, the white man brought civilization with him, right? 

We are being told deliberate lies. Vital information is being taken away from us. They’ve stolen our lands, taken hold of our cultures, and now they’re taking knowledge away from us.

We were never taught that the pictures from the Civil Rights Movement were, in fact, not taken in black and white, but in color. How many of you know that the first colored photograph was taken in 1861?  

By withholding information within their system, they ensure that we believe these movements occurred centuries ago when in fact, the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1940s. Our parents were alive during this movement yet our parents were just as unaware as we are. This is hoodwinking at its best: by concealing the time frames, they’ve managed to create a generation of people who have no sense of time. Had we not done our research, had the BLM movement not become a part of our own lives, would we have known? Chances are, we wouldn’t have.

We need to hold the boards of education and our teachers accountable (because, in case you didn’t know, we are allowed to do that).  We are allowed to fight for the right to learn what we believe is not being taught. We are allowed to stand up for our education. Yet, we have never been able to in the “land of the free”. 

We can change this. By signing petitions and calling our boards of education to make changes in our system, we can make them with the click of a button. Because if our education system allowed us to pay attention to the grave mistakes we have made – and keep making- as a society, we could make so much more progress than we have in the last few centuries. When a child takes home vital information that changes the views of their parents, that is when we know we have made a difference within our society.

READ MORE: Stop Posting Selfies, Start Posting #BlackLivesMatter Resources

Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

"..you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin

Who Is Stealing From Whom? Contextualizing The Protests

“..you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin

By

Haider Syed
Photo of George Floyd mural in Minnesota.

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

“Who is looting whom? Grabbing off the TV set? He doesn’t really want the TV set. He’s saying  screw you…He wants to let you know he’s there….you’re accusing a captive population who has been robbed of everything of looting. I think it’s obscene.” – James Baldwin 

“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” – Frantz Fanon 

We didn’t just watch George Floyd die, we watched him being murdered. We all did. There is something absolutely harrowing beyond adequate expression about this moment that we are living through. George Floyd’s murder is symbolic of the plight of Blackness during our time. 

Floyd was suffocated to death by the knee of Derek Chauvin. As the first wave of protestors marched in Minneapolis, the police threw tear gas at the predominantly Black crowd, stifling their ability to breathe. This occurred amid a pandemic where the coronavirus (COVID-19) unrelentingly targets the lungs – and has killed three times as many Black people than White, in America. 

I recalled how in our Islamic theological tradition we’re told of a time before we came into this world when every soul found themselves in the presence of God in the sea of souls; where Allah breathed a part of his Ruh into us – Nafas Ar Rahman – the Breath of the All Merciful.

It was said that we were in distress in our state of non-existence and the Breath of the Divine bought us relief by bringing us forth into this dunya, bearing witness to his Oneness as we were entrusted with that part of Him inside of us. This sets us on the path towards birth and our coming into this realm, where we ourselves take that first breath still sustained and dependent on what was blown into us. Which is renewed with every breath we then ever take. 

And yet George Floyd had that breath choked out of him in every sense. His haunting last words of “I can’t breathe” still ring in the ears of so many; a phrase ever-demonstrative of the reality of being Black in America – of suffocation. 

 

The way in which the officer kept his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck makes you wonder what sickness of the heart blinded him to the point where he couldn’t hear a man’s gasps or pleas. How is it that he couldn’t see the excruciating pain he subjugated another life to? How was he so devoid of any compassion? That a grown father screamed out for his own mother – that is an anguish that is indescribable. How much hatred do you have inside of you that you can just rob another life with such disdain? As incidents of police brutality always do, Floyd’s murder speaks volumes of a larger phenomenon that goes beyond hashtags and isolated incidents. 

Suppressed and unable to breathe under the onset of violent policing and systematic brutalization from the state, Black people are not given permission to even merely live. Blackness itself is constantly scrutinized. Malcolm X once, when urging the necessity of revolt by any means, described the condition of Black America vis-a-vis the analogy of the foot of the oppressor on their necks. He was disturbingly correct.

READ MORE: George Floyd: Murder Of Unarmed Black Man Sparks Ongoing Protests In Minneapolis

Fifty years later and in fact nothing has really changed. This isn’t just about the past few days; it’s about the past 500 years. It’s about George Floyd but also about what is nothing more than an established practice in America. It’s about identifying and coming to terms with the socio-cultural roots of anti-Blackness and an apparatus that was built specifically to restrict Black freedom. And even more pressingly, an interweaving network of structures designed to sustain the privileges of whiteness.

You can’t separate the events of the past few weeks from the mythology of America. These are not instances taking place in a vacuum. The very idea of America cannot be separated from the toil and blood which assured that whiteness would ensure its superiority no matter what – built on the backs of Black slaves. A people who were never truly emancipated despite the many Black faces that have reached imperious positions in upper echelons of power. Slavery was not abolished, it was clearly reformed.

As the literal terror of slavery could no longer be practiced, a system just the same, to parallel that power dynamic of racial domination, was constructed. From chain gangs, convict leasing, and Jim Crow to the largest prison population in the world- America’s past is entrenched in its current reality and nationalist imagination. 

We have again seen the same sight of murder, protest, outrage and then eventual dissipation as we have every single time. Uproar and then calm. Until it happens again. Another name memorialized and a life summed up inside of a hashtag.

This narrative has become cyclical and repetitive because those same structures that were built to preserve the supremacy of whiteness are still intact today. Some were lauding the fact that the one of the officers in question was detained and charged within four days, yet this like much of the mainstream coverage- it diverges attention away from actually addressing the issues at hand. At the moment all four officers including those who watched their colleague commit murder have been charged. But what will this actually achieve? One of those guilty, has already posted bail despite it being set in excess of $1 million. He was able to crow-fund his release on bail even when it was set so high.

 

It’s no longer about violent policing; it’s about the institution of policing itself. Arrests and charges being laid have happened before, and in the past some of those guilty beyond belief have still gotten off scot-free despite the evidence at hand. Our mentality as a society still being grounded in seeing these as isolated incidents means we don’t actually address it as an institutional problem, but as a case of a few bad apples. We see it as a need for improved training and further reforms; legislation to be passed and a few promises to be made. That there are some good amongst them because they kneel with protestors (moments before they attack them). Yet the very institution of policing has to be called into question just as the whole of the carceral state has to as well. 

When such institutions are inherently racist by default, reform becomes a facilitator of continuing oppression and not it’s eradicator. 

The systemic manifestations of dehumanization and racism denigrate and humiliate Black lives, expressing themselves in these “moments”. We should rightfully honor those who pass, but the fixation on individuals takes away from the fact that that moment of engagement between an officer and a civilian is the end-product of a whole system and culture in motion. 

These moments are the product of not only legacies of hate and vilification at work but the subtle microaggressions and causal racism we often overlook, ignore, and bypass as harmless. Hence complete abolition becomes a necessity, when policing is fixated in a clearly discriminatory attitude. Those patrols and night watches that surveilled and restrained slaves became modern day police forces, and the carceral state and the judicial system all collaborated efficiently to debilitate communities of color and the marginalized in a multitude of ways for decades.

As we live through this moment, America should know that it never actually held to account the wounds it carved. It merely forgave itself for its past rather than healing those wounds. And because it never truly acknowledged what it had done, it hasn’t accepted the actual progress it requires. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year on jailing and policing vulnerable populations is not progress. True progress means it can no longer rely on the same institutions that monopolize such logistics of brutality, marrying terror with anti-Blackness and mirroring policing techniques rooted in enslavement. Within this dynamic, how can it grow a conscience to its own brutality?

READ MORE: Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

The conversation shouldn’t be about banning chokeholds, de-escalation or interventionary practices anymore. 

You cannot expect a system designed to oppress a whole subsection of society to also heal itself through those same mechanisms. You can’t think that the legal machinery put into place to preserve the interests of the white and wealthy while depriving the rights of others to now hold those same individuals rightfully accountable. You can’t depend on a broken moral compass to suddenly guide you. You can’t look at the same match that lit the flame, to now put it out. 

What America – by which I mean privileged, white, middle America that dictates and is serviced by the mainstream – is encountering, is a reckoning that has brought it face to face with the same past it distorts in order to forget the injustice it commits. To overlook the truth, which allows for it to cloak itself in the language of democracy and equality. 

Even where justice seems to be delivered, where verdicts are cheered and legislation is championed – the same violence is ever-recurring – Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown and countless others.

The occurrence of police oppression is clearly beyond the realm of individualist actions but that of a disease that plagues the entire framework that produces these individuals. The very ideology that is allowed to fester and be given a chance to thrive as a normative and acceptable way to think, and to see others in a certain light and to act accordingly. That is what has to be confronted. It is as systematic as it is psychological. 

The way a woman clutches her purse when she sees a Black man approaching, the way a white person persistently asks you where you are from, the way some ascribe to “not seeing color” – these are the products of subtle assumptions that predominantly White people carry and project upon minorities, particularly upon Black people. Of suspicion and alarm. To let a person of color know that they are different, domineering to inhibit feelings of shame that allow for them to feel inferior. And these are the types of preconceived notions produced by dominant narratives that otherize minorities, which fuel these feelings of fear and paranoia – which lead to white women calling the police on a Black man bird watching or a shopkeeper to suspect a Black customer as he enters his store.

It’s all about the roles we are expected to play and the boxes that others put us in. They end up getting Black people killed. It’s about the policing we ourselves carry out on each other, rather than looking out for one another. Ultimately, as Malcolm X concluded after his trip to Mecca, racism can only be cured by addressing the diseases within our hearts.

Moments like these are a devastating reminder of the often-invisible structural violence which can become visibilized so suddenly. Floyd was brutally murdered in broad daylight. His execution was publicized, it was recorded and went viral. A dastardly rekindling of public lynchings in the Jim Crow South come to mind. Humiliating and brutal- for everyone to gawk and see. The world witnessed the horror. Had it not been filmed what would the response have been then? There are layers upon layers of intricately designed invisible violence consistently functioning, suffocating and killing Black people daily which the rest of us usually never see despite its persistence. 

What makes this such a critical moment is where it allows for us to go from here. When we speak of defunding police departments or abolishing policing as a whole,  it extends far beyond past reforms such as implementing body cameras on on-duty cops or demanding better training. It’s about reimagining a radically different and new world. It is about confronting the world we have inherited and undoing the lived traumas that many are forced to contend with. Abolishment isn’t about harm reduction, it’s about creating a properly equitable society.

 

 

By defunding police departments and closing down prisons, those resources and budgets that spiral into the hundreds of billions, can be repurposed towards addressing societal inequality and systemic discrepancies in the form of universal basic income, healthcare, free education, and providing community care to build better living conditions rather than endlessly investing in repressive policies and drastic militarization. The abandonment people experience from the state in the first place is what primarily drives the powerless and vulnerable to take matters into their own hands. To not only fend for themselves in order to survive or seek avenues out of the pain and poverty which engulfs them, but to express the rage of discontent. 

To foster systems predicated on care and compassion instead is of paramount importance. We must finally move away from furthering militarial expansion overseas, domestic surveillance and aggression, which only breed poverty and the hostility that divisive ideologies thrive upon. This must open up larger conversations exploring the interdependencies between capitalist modes of production that prioritizes profits over life and well-being.

The same faculties could be better applied to prioritizing low-cost mental health resources or investing in building mutual aid networks within communities based on accountability, de-escalation and conflict resolution instead of punishment and harassing the most vulnerable amongst us. 

Our broader perception of public safety has to change, in a way that doesn’t revolve around terror. What we define as good or bad, as criminality itself- must change. Locking people in cages doesn’t address or resolve the multi-plex forms of continuous oppression and exploitation people were victim to. Because they are extracted and removed from society, doesn’t mean the problem is gone too. Justice isn’t defined by time served. We must get to the root of what necessitates people’s behavior in the first place, in order to uproot it. A society that prioritizes supporting and caring for one another, where no one is left alone or behind, is not impossible despite what we are led to believe. 

Yet within the mainstream, the conversation around the structural violence Black and marginalized people are victim to, is rarely presented through the lens of poverty and incarceration. It is decontextualized and narrativized around disorder and absurdity. . 

And as we watched large parts of the US endowed in what has been no more than an uprising, we should hold the mainstream media and political establishment accountable for having the nerve to bring up orderly conduct now. To have the audacity to speak of rule of law, of tone and to urge calm over people expressing their frustrations after decades of being unheard and every peaceful offering proving futile. 

Did the officer who turned judge, jury and executioner give any semblance of regard to the tone in George Floyd’s voice as he pleaded? Rubber bullets which cause terminal brain damage shot at the heads of protestors or tear gas fired into massive crowds which can cause severe long term respiratory ailment – was that not violence? 

What of the violence of corporations accumulating obscene amounts of capital and resources at the disposal of workers everyday? Those refused a living wage or humane working conditions. What of the violence of landlords who refuse to cancel rent in the middle of a pandemic? What of the criminalization of those who can’t afford to ride public transit but still have places to reach? What about those left hungry and desperate out on the streets? The fact that more people are in jail in the United States than the entire population of Philadelphia says it all. The U.S. spends $182 billion a year to keep millions in cages. The criminalization of poverty and color. That is violence. $750+ billion on national defense in a country where 13 million children don’t have enough food to eat and not one to provide them with it. That is violence.

And let’s not pretend as if America hasn’t been on fire, at war with itself since the moment it bought the first African in shackles onto its shores. As if merchandise and shop windows are worth more than the lives that were taken? In a place where for millions of people, their existence is informed by the inheritance of the trauma of their ancestors being commodified and chastised on that very land? Where for many their lives are made absolute hell every day just because of the color of their skin? 

On land that itself was stolen. Where every day there are those stranded on reservations without clean water? Where is the 24/7 media fixation for them, where is the moral outcry from pundits to alleviate their plight? It seems disingenuous for many to scream ‘All Lives Matter’ when America is a story of constant abandonment. 

Nothing is more despicable than the fact that the mainstream defines poor and marginalized people solely through their rightful retaliation to the systemic violence which they are subjugated to every day. No one bothers to ever contextualize or humanize Black suffering in particular. Because that would legitimize it. It is painted as barbarism and senseless lunacy but it is the full disclosure of the hurt and pain that Black America is told to bottle up and contend with. But when people lay carnage to monuments of those who trampled over their ancestors and destroy the tools of oppression that terrorize them, they are speaking to all of us about just how necessary their liberation is. How unbearable their condition has become.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

Celebrating Eid In Afghanistan: Navigating A Ceasefire

"I began to fear what the night brings in the villages of Afghanistan – the airstrikes and night raids that have become increasingly common."

Sayed Abad, Maidan Wardak – The first time I heard the word اوربند, ceasefire, was in 2018 when the Kabul government and the Taliban announced a historic three-day armistice for the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Over those three days and the seven day “reduction in violence” this last February, I realized words aren’t enough to describe what even a short break in fighting actually means. In a country known in equal parts for its beauty and its decades-long conflicts, it means travel.

Most importantly, for millions it means the opportunity to go home. Afghanistan is riddled with provinces and districts that for years, if not two decades, have become impossible to travel to with certitude. Every journey to these areas is a 50-50 gamble with landmines, bandits, checkpoints setup by the Taliban and other armed groups and finding yourself caught in battles between the government and those armed groups.

If you dare to stay the night, you must contend with all of those risks and the added fear of drones, airstrikes and night raids, all of which have resulted in civilian deaths.

But during a ceasefire, much of those fears dissipate and are replaced with a sense of cautious optimism that you can head out to a place you haven’t been to in years, if ever, or that you can go to your watan, homeland.

This year, on the third day of the Eid ceasefire — unexpectedly announced by the Taliban and reciprocated by the government — I went to meet up my friend in Sayed Abad, a district in the Eastern province of Maidan Wardak I hadn’t been to in three years.

Last time we went, in the summer of 2017, we found ourselves heading towards a battle between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. The further ahead we got, the more intense the sounds of gunfire and grenades became.

 

Photo from Ali Latifi

If we turned back, we — a group which included two Afghan-Americans and an Afghan-Austrian — would have come under suspicion. If we continued on, we’d be driving straight into a battle. We were there for work, investigating the impact of drone strikes on civilians, but for countless numbers of Afghans, this is what returning home or going to see family means, coming face-to-face yet again with a war that has divided families both physically and politically.

Luckily, the driver knew of a shrine on the side of the road where we could wait out some of the fighting.  All this while my mother’s cousin was expecting me for lunch in Kabul.

This time, however, because of the ceasefire, those fears were gone. We laughed and joked about how our friend who was usually so talkative and energetic rendered silent by her carsickness.

When we arrived in Sayed Abad, we spent much of the day walking around the family’s land, taking pictures, playing cards and even having my friends hold my phone as I gave a live interview for an international media outlet about the very ceasefire we were enjoying.

At one point while we were walking around the compound, our friend Nadima, who has a large online following in Afghanistan and abroad, started to make short videos to show her thousands of followers what it was like to be able to come to such a place.

She was full of exuberance as she described the different fruits and nuts that grew around us, how important it was to be able to hear the birds chirping and to taste what that’s actually fresh and not “plasticy” from a bottle. She told her followers how lucky we are to come from such a beautiful land, all with a look of utter joy on her face.

When she finished, I reminded her that all of this is only possible because of a ceasefire and that until there is a real end to the fighting, millions of people in the country will never be able to see a place like this and that Maidan Wardak will continue to be known only as a dangerous place.  

But by the time dinner had been cleared it became certain that the online calls to the Taliban and the government to #ExtendTheCeasefire had not been heeded. That was when the reality, and the fear that comes along with it, set in.

Suddenly, the laughter gave way to serious, hours-long discussions of how we would make the two-hour journey back to Kabul in the morning. 

The questions kept coming.

Photo from Ali Latifi

Would the ceasefire be broken immediately after midnight, or might the two sides wait a few hours before resuming their operations and attacks?

Was it better to leave in the dark when the roads were completely empty but we would also be blind to any possible checkpoints, or should we wait until the sun came up and we would potentially be easier to spot by suspicious snipers? 

Where would we find an additional reliable car (drivers have been known to tip off Taliban of suspicious passengers) now that we had extra people with us? How could we ensure the safety of the two women with us? Should we go together back-to-back so that we face any possible dangers together or should we space out our journeys so one group scope the situation for the others? If we space out the timing, how long should we wait? If we wait too long is fighting more likely to start back up by the time the second group heads out?

For hours, we debated different answers to each of the questions over and over again.

While the others discussed, debated and analyzed countless plans, I began to fear what the night brings in the villages of Afghanistan – the airstrikes and night raids that have become increasingly common.

After all, I’d sat with families in this very district as they described the aerial strikes that destroyed their homes and killed their loved ones. In Khogyani district in Nangarhar province, I heard stories of raids into homes filled with women and children, the laundry still hanging.

The truth was once the ceasefire broke, danger was all around us. 

It could strike at any minute. It could come from ground or the air.

When morning came, we had no choice but to surrender to the plan we had agreed on. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

We did all make it back to Kabul safe and sound, but that journey still serves as one small example of what a difference a few hours and two short words can make in Afghanistan.

It shows what day and night mean when there is no long-lasting peace

READ MORE: #PrayForKabul, But Don’t Ignore The Greater Issues

Stop Posting Selfies, Start Posting #BlackLivesMatter Resources

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room.

Stop Posting Selfies, Start Posting #BlackLivesMatter Resources

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room.

By

Nawal Qadir & Khaula Saad

Social Media Influencer at a #BlackLivesMatter rally.

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

For the past several days, cities across the nation (and the world) have broken out in protests. This outburst of marches, sit-ins, and even riots have been in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. 

Alongside these protests, activists have been taking to social media, using their platforms as a way to inform the masses and connect with those at the protest. From infographics about police brutality to quotes by prominent Black activists to information about how to stay safe at protests, social media has become the ultimate space for people to show their solidarity with the movement.  

But the use of social media as an informative platform hasn’t been limited to activists, as it usually is. Floyd’s murder has pulled back the curtains on a system of injustice that no one can ignore. And nearly no one has. For some, social media is now what it always has been: a place to document their lives as usual. The only problem is that life hasn’t exactly been “usual” and while posting a selfie may seem harmless, it’s actually pretty problematic. 

In a time where systemic brutality is being countered (and people are putting themselves in harm’s way to do so), a beach day selfie or an #ootd seem painfully apathetic. It’s a signal that you’ve chosen to delegitimize the movement and, in turn, ignore the suffering of an entire community of people, even if said selfie is sandwiched between two infographics (which is dangerously close to saying that a movement attempting to end racial inequality is nothing more than an Instagram trend). 

While it’s no one’s place to tell you what to or not to post, sometimes you have to read the room. Black lives have been ripped away by the police for centuries now, and people are being brutalized in the streets for trying to call an end to the murdering. The president is inciting violence against these citizens via his Twitter account, going so far as to threaten military action in several states. If the current events aren’t making you mindful of what you post, you’re not paying attention. 

The atmosphere following George Floyd’s murder is one America has not seen since the ‘60s. Black Lives Matter protests have been held in all 50 states of America. Scrolling through any social media outlet will put you face-to-face with countless videos of police officers attacking unarmed citizens protesting in the streets. There are injustices being brought to light in ways never before possible. Currently, social media is being used as a platform to spread information about what’s happening on the streets and what people can do to help make a change. And even if you don’t want to hear it, now’s not the time to post that #throwbackthursday. 

While social media definitely has its pitfalls, it can be an extremely powerful tool to unite the public. We’re seeing that happen everyday amid these protests. People are learning more about the systemic abuses Black people endure throughout their lives and are becoming more motivated to speak up about them. If you take a moment to consider all of the information that’s being posted online, you probably will find yourself feeling the same way.

Instagram and other social media platforms are meant to serve as a way for you to express yourself and your ideas. And while no one can force you to stop that, it can be beneficial to take this as a moment of reflection. Consider what’s going on around you and what’s at stake. Black people witnessing members of their community being murdered on tape are also scrolling past your selfies. At the absolute very least, it’s disrespectful. 

Instagram will always be there for you to post your workout selfies, a snap of your morning coffee, and your quarantine-makeup-looks. So for right now, hold off for a bit. Take the initiative to learn about everything that’s going on. Take part in the activism. You’ll be glad you did.

READ MORE: We Shouldn’t Rely On Trigger Videos To Care About Black Lives

 

Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

Non-Black Muslims Must Care About Black Liberation

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

By

Haider Syed
Photo - Hajji Hassan (@forthelovers)

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

For non-Black people of color and for Muslims in general, this moment is of the utmost importance.

There’s a lot to be said on what we see unfolding in front of us as Muslims particularly and where we should stand. The complicity to some degree of the Arab store owner whose employee first called the police over George apparently using a fake $20 hill has opened up a can of worms in the Arab community particularly, one that is all too often swept under the rug- that of anti-Black racism. But other non-Black communities of color such as the South Asian community are no different. While some have chosen to remain silent amid this time, others have taken a stance. Our religious traditions and the Prophetic teachings passed down to us, make clear the significance of siding with the oppressed. We are taught to struggle in the face of tyranny and to speak the truth no matter how bitter it may be. 

Yet some have argued that protesting itself or partaking in such acts of self-determination are haram. Despite it being widely recorded that the Prophet and His companions, in the face of the oppressive Quraish, would engage in strategic guerilla tactics to deliberately stifle the Meccan economy that guaranteed them the means to carry out their oppression.

Others have wholeheartedly denounced the action they have seen taken place across American cities. Imagine, criticizing the retaliation of the oppressed to the repression they are subjugated to, instead of those who are administering that very oppression. 

This stance in particular lays bare the mindset that allows for racism to thrive in our communities. This mentality is a product of our inherent desire to appease the white gaze, thinking we will attain all the privileges that come with physical and ideological proximity to whiteness. It is the belief that by glorifying and mimicking what are literally the very tenants that uphold whiteness and in extension white supremacy, dehumanizing Blackness as it does are worth redeeming. It is a byproduct of idolizing whiteness as the pinnacle of what we should adhere to. And many of us as a result internalize self-hatred and racism by viewing ourselves in opposition to Blackness. It’s evident in our silence on political matters to the way in which we hold education as the primary marker of our value as individuals.

While many have rightfully condemned and acknowledged the racism prevalent in our own homes, families, friend circles and religious spaces, others have had a tougher time swallowing these facts. It goes back to the concept of communities such as the South Asian diaspora being perceived as and expected to be model minorities. 

Beginning in the 1970s with the scrapping of the older quota system, immigrants from across Asia coming to America were no longer discriminated based on origin but from thereon categorized in terms of their value as productive, educated and skilled professionals. They were largely accepted as such. As the likes of Vjiay Prashad have concluded, their worth was based upon their economic output and not their ethnicity as they became the benchmark of what a successful minority should look like. Yet this became the perfect threshold to point out the failings of Black Americans as the conversation and blame could now easily be shifted away from racism being a variable. This phenomenon encapsulates much of the wider non-Black Muslim community. 

Structural racism is embodied in individual racist actions and rhetoric yet it is the culmination of a culture in which unconscious biases, negative assumptions, institutional policies, cultural representations, snide jokes, subtle comments, glaring looks, and distrust are instilled in every aspect of life to a degree where they aren’t questioned but accepted as the norm. This results in seeing Blackness as dangerous and associates a skin color with threat.

The Muslim community is highly prone to this sort of internalized anti-Blackness. We continually deny it even exists yet it permeates in the most profound circumstances, let alone in upholding tropes through ridicule or outright hate. 

We thwart our way into Black culture: through Black inspired or crafted fashion and music, and many of us regularly make use of derogatory terms like the n-word thinking that it’s all harmless because we aren’t white. Yet we’re the first in uproar over our own culture being appropriated. And even more so, we do absolutely nothing to address the inherent racism and colorism prevalent in our most immediate spaces. We rarely factor into it our own psyches or make the effort to actually learn about Black history, like the radical Black political tradition which guaranteed many American minorities the rights they enjoy today – extending beyond MLK or Rosa Parks. It was the very sacrifices of Black people organizing in the face of repression which made possible the avenues that non-Black minorities have used as a stepping stone to achieve unprecedented successes. 

Yet many of us only desire the privilege that whiteness guarantees. Others amongst us are white-passing and their ease in proximitizing themselves to whiteness is even more effortless. Yet both are rooted in our colonial pasts and that of cultures dominated by division by caste, tribe and class. There is a rich tradition particularly of Black and Palestinian solidarity as well as Brown and Black solidarity across the Muslim Third World – it’s time we learn more about them. Supporting Black struggles doesn’t make our own struggles any less important. American-Muslims in particular should know to some degree what it feels to be constantly policed and vilified, in a post-9/11 world. Yet many have not made these connections let alone have empathized. 

Our silence does make us complicit, our supposed neutrality as a means to not appear too radical or threatening to the White status quo does the same. We must have these discussions and conversations as we head towards creating a better world. We can’t just not be racist we have to challenge it in it’s every form to uproot it from our families and sacred spaces. That is where dismantling white supremacy begins. 

 

Many of us shared the video of George Floyd’s death with good intentions, yet we have to be cognizant even of why we don’t have much of a problem viewing the trauma of Black death. This is multilayered. 

The store owner’s policy that he adhered to, of calling the police in a situation such as Floyd’s, goes back to the idea of how we want to be viewed by authority –  adhering to norms even though the consequences are that the situation would likely be potential death. The problem is having no problem doing business in the Black community and profiting off of them yet still holding onto stereotypes that necessitate policing Blackness at every turn. 

We have to let go of these preconceived notions and biases, in order to work actively beyond the realm of hashtag movements and online solidarity. A lot of it has to do with how we engage with Blackness as a construct, as non-Black folks. Of the culture we consume, the books that we read, the music that we listen to, the content that we watch. They all factor in moulding our perceptions of racial tropes and standards. We have to on our own reflect on these questions of why we sanctify whiteness and see it as superior. Why do we associate “bad” with Blackness? Why do we see darker complexions as dirty? 

It begins with holding ourselves and our family members accountable and to stop making excuses for what we deem as cultural norms back home, of challenging racism and discrimination outright. They are learned and can be unlearned. It begins with educating ourselves and others on the historical construction of anti-Black racism and the unjust apparatus that represses communities across America. We can’t just accept things the way they are any longer. There isn’t a need to get into the what-aboutism of who supported who when it was one of our own communities facing oppression. 

The Black community is our own too. Black, Indigenous and Palestinian liberation are inherently tied to the settler-colonialism which dehumanized them and that we benefit from even as recent immigrants living here in North America.

It begins with sitting down and dealing with the discomfort and guilt of the racism we allow to fester and perpetuate ourselves. It starts with the content we read. It begins with researching on our own and listening to Black voices. We can’t just be non-racist, we have to be anti-racist, to paraphrase the great Angela Davis. And that means investment and not appropriating Black culture thinking you’re being helpful by promoting it. Investing in the struggle beyond just performative activism and surface-level clout chasing. To not just check in or empathize with those in the Black community through this moment, but to have the right intentions with the work that we have to do in the long term. That this isn’t just for a moment where you say Black lives matter and then move on, but that as long as Black people are dehumanized, discriminated and brutalized against systematically everyday- this is a fight we have to take up every single day as well.

As long as the Black community faces the consequences, we must give up the privileges that allow for it to cultivate, and to direct our resources and money towards uplifting the Black community’s mobilization efforts, solidarity campaigns, educational endeavors, bail funds, essential supplies, care and relief work, and so forth. The time is for action, it’s for taking a stand everywhere. 

If we imagine living in a radically different, far more just world, we have to be radical in our thinking of how to make that possible. If we imagine a more equitable society as Muslims, it begins with ourselves personally and what we’re willing give up in these moments. 

There was an image doing the rounds on Twitter the past few days showing Arab store owners armed, standing outside of their store in order to protect it from looting in Chicago. When we talk about reimagining society, it begins with ourselves and what we’re willing to do for the sake of someone else. Particularly, of mutual aid and collective upliftment in moments of grief and anger. If we can stand there with guns which will intimidate and antagonize hostility, we can just as easily stand there and distribute necessary supplies to those in need.

READ MORE:  Dear Non-Black Muslims, Your Silence Is Deadly

Stuck Between White Racist Sexist President And White Racist Sexist Candidate

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

Stuck Between White Racist Sexist President And White Racist Sexist Candidate

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.”

By

Sarah McCrumb

Photo - AP / Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

Ever since former Vice President Joe Biden said “Well, I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” on the radio, I had this feeling of frustration and despair. To put it bluntly, I never supported Biden, as I do not see him having open dialogues in 2020 events. Biden was silent during the first few months of coronavirus (COVID-19), he is silent on the murders of Black people during the current lockdown, silent on Hong Kong, and many other issues. 

This candidate is nothing more than a symbol of a past, that should remain in the past.  He is not Trump, let me just make that clear but it doesn’t make him any better of a candidate. I was told by an 80-year-old family friend that I should just vote Biden to get President Donald J. Trump out of office. While I know many of us will vote for Biden, I’m frustrated that we’re given candidates who are just the same copy and paste mold. It feels that the Democratic party gave up after Obama, choosing leaders most of us would rather not want.

Biden is the Democratic party’s “safe” vote because he doesn’t stir the pot. So much so that he doesn’t even show up when major events happen in the United States or in the World. More importantly, he is just the same as all other old white men who were in office before the Obama era. I don’t see how “safe” would win against the orange baby we have in office, who is known to be “unsafe”. Especially if “safe” to the Democrats just means nominating a racist and sexual predator who is just more tactful. 

We can’t go from Trump to back to the status quo, nothing will work out in any of our favors. The problem I have with my 80-year-old friend’s view of “anyone but Trump” is that it pretty much means “let’s have someone less bad than Trump in the office, but hey it’s not Trump!”

The problem is made even worse if that somebody is not going to fix the issues like immigration policies, climate crises, and loan forgiveness for students. I don’t want to vote for a man who is going to return us back to “normalcy” when that normalcy has always been sexist, racist, and Islamophobic. 

There’s no doubt that Biden’s former policies did decimate Black communities across the nation. The man spent years opposing integrationist efforts, supporting segregation, and considered segregation a good for Black folk of America. I wonder how it felt for him to work alongside a Black president.

READ MORE:  What A Joe Biden Presidency Means For Muslims

In 1988, he plagiarized his speech and had to drop out as a Democratic nominee. Like Trump he is also known for making things up, like saying he marched in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1994, he was one of the main proponents for the Federal Crime Bill, which went on to seriously harm  Black families and communities. In 2003, Biden supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, claiming he was “tricked” into support. He apparently forgot that since the 90s he openly called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. 

A perfect way to describe the situation for the 2020 election is the notion of choosing “the lesser of two evils.” In life we all have to make choices that we would rather not, sometimes both choices are just as bad.

In this election, we are told to vote for the lesser evil, but is Biden an evil or is he more of a disappointing option? We have to think logically about how Biden would act in office compared to Trump. If Trump is kicked out of office, the new president will be handed huge issues. There are many problems with Biden’s morals, but does that mean he can’t run for office? 

As Obama’s VP, he dealt with the economic crisis of 2008. This would mean Biden might have some insight on how to fix the economy, compared to a man who constantly goes bankrupt. 

It’s important to not get caught in making our political leaders our idols. Not only is it shirk to do so, but these leaders are not perfect. I don’t think it is asking for much, when we want a presidential candidate to not have a racist or sexist nature. Nor do I think it’s bad to ask for a leader who can lead some kind of change – someone who can actually listen when Black men are being killed by police officers and instead of sending the troops, they actually try to fix the issue. 

The issue with Biden besides his character, is how he is going to run his office. If the Democratic party wants “normalcy” what kind of normalcy are we going to get? Are detention centers  just going to be forgotten, instead of forming a bill to prevent such actions from ever happening again? Is he going to try to send a bill to congress limiting the rights of the President, so the President can be impeached and not be above the law? After Trump there is no such thing as normalcy – if anything the reign of Trump has shown that the era of just “doing” your job is over. Our nation has serious issues that could potentially boil over to something worse than a riot. 

There is no way I can put trust in a man who really is just the same as the man we have in the office, but with a tad bit more tact. They really are on the same coin. I hoped this election we would be given someone different, someone that was a mash of Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, and Obama who would actually create positive change in our society. 

We proved ourselves by electing powerful women into congress, and the Democratic party turned around to give us Biden. When people say we are stuck between a rock and a hard place, that’s an understatement. 

All I can hope is that Biden is thrown out the window and someone better is ushered in for this 2020 election. Someone who doesn’t try to spy on the Muslim community and ban Muslims from entering the country. Someone who actually listens to Black voices instead of being scared of helping them. Someone who actually forgives all student loan debts or sets something better up. I am dreaming, but it’s better than the choice we have. It’s better than being stuck with the choice of lesser evil and evil. 

At the end of the day they both are shaytan.

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Sarah McCrumb

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