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We at Islamic Networks Group (ING) are heartbroken and horrified at the murder of yet another Black man, George Floyd this week. We stand in solidarity with his family and friends, and the Black American communities nationwide, which have endured such treatment for far too long, in mourning his needless and brutal death. We have seen the videos which highlight the horrific details of his death including his words which tragically echo those of Eric Garner’s who was also killed in 2014 after pleading “I can’t breathe” while lying face down on the sidewalk. The occurrence of this terrible incident so closely on the heels of the release of the video of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed while jogging in February, as well as countless other incidents against Black people, has clearly and painfully highlighted the systemic racism that underpins many of our institutions.
At ING, we realized a while ago that our work of countering Islamophobia and challenging bigotry and racism will not be effective until we fully understand and begin to counter anti-Black racism and all the racisms which underpin the history of this country as well as much of the history of the world. The history and legacy of colonialism which is based on a view of non-white peoples as less than human continues to impact our lives today, and until we clearly understand that history, we will not be able to counter its influence. To that end we launched the Intercultural Speakers Bureau last year which examines the roots of Islamophobia in anti-Black racism, and the interconnectedness of other forms of bigotry directed against Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous populations. Panels of speakers from these groups address the history of knowledge creation about colonized people, and the process of racialization and racism, which leads to xenophobia, “implicit bias” and systemic racism. We have convened dozens of panels on these topics, including a recent panel about the tragic murder of Ahmaud Arbery, which you can view below.
We believe that in order for true and deep seated change to occur, we all must commit to play our part. We must begin by examining our own attitudes and actions which may contribute to ongoing societal racism. These events are stark reminders that all of us need to examine and acknowledge our roles in upholding and even benefiting from racist systems. We must commit internally as individuals, as organizations, and as power structures to address anti-Black racism through dialogue, education and accountability. We must renew our commitment to be allies and to support those organizations and communities on the front lines of this critical work.
To that end we are organizing a series of webinars about addressing anti-Black racism in our own communities, and how to be true allies in this struggle for justice. The series will be announced next week.