We at CAIR Oklahoma want to express our solidarity and support with the Black community of Oklahoma and across the country as we stand together against the systemic injustices perpetuated by American institutions.
From education to health care to policing and criminal justice, we have seen time and time again that American systems do not value or respect Black lives. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Arbery, and Tony McDade are only the most recent in a long line of Black lives lost to murder, to inequity, to indifferent cruelty – and sadly, they are far from the last.
We believe that our faith and our principles demand justice for all people, which will not be achieved without an unwavering and unapologetic commitment to the protection of Black lives and the ending of entrenched anti-Blackness wherever it occurs. As our faith teaches us, we are obligated to confront injustice in all its forms, including and especially the ending of unjust systems such as racial hierarchies, xenophobia, and misogyny.
For far too long, anti-Blackness has permeated our community – anti-Blackness in the form of both expressed, conscious acts of racism and bigotry, but also in the subtle and insidious forms of implicit bias that run rampant and unchecked.
If we are to live out the principles of our faith, we must address our own intra-community issues of anti-Blackness. We must acknowledge that many of the enshrined civil liberties we protect for the Muslims of today’s America are the direct result of the sacrifices and strife of Black activists. We must recognize that for many of us, our successes came at the expense of Black communities being disenfranchised, segregated, and targeted. Today, we stand on the shoulders of Black organizers and activists who make our work possible, and we must honor their stories and their struggles as we move forward in our current fight.
CAIR Oklahoma reiterates our commitment to racial justice in the Oklahoma community and pledges our support to the movement for justice, equity, and liberation for all. We encourage all Muslim leaders across the state to join us in fulfilling the following:
- Public statements of support and solidarity. At this time, neutrality in situations of oppression is no longer an option. Silence makes a powerful statement. Muslim organizations and mosques should make public their solidarity with their Black neighbors and honor the losses of those who have been impacted by generations of systemic racism.
- Educate yourself and your peers. Black writers, academics, and teachers have published a wealth of information about the struggle for Black liberation. From the earliest days of American history to the events of the previous weekend, seek out and amplify the Black voices who are teaching us all a lesson that should have been learned long ago.
- Contact your leaders. We need and deserve leaders who are willing to confront their own internal biases and to listen to the demands of communities who are fighting their way out from under centuries of oppression. Contact your elected leaders and tell them to listen to their constituents and to work to truly serve us all.
- Challenge implicit bias. The deepest forms of racism are maintained by our refusal to address the power of implicit biases. All Muslim organizations should commit to conducting internal bias training and take advantage of tools which help us manage and reduce our subconsciously racist impulses. We cannot cure a disease which we cannot see.
- Start conversations. Where you hear racist, anti-Black sentiments being expressed, it is our duty to call them out. Although these conversations are uncomfortable, they are necessary to spread correct information about the history of inequality in our country and the work currently being done to achieve justice for past and present wrongs.
- Financial support. CAIR Oklahoma is only one of many organizations working across the state to end systemic racism and to empower each and every Oklahoman to fulfill their highest potential. Donations of time, money, and supplies help us continue in our mission and help activists on the ground to keep putting pressure on those with the power to act against anti-Black racism.
In addition, we are implementing effective immediately a plan which will provide an anti-racist framework for our organization’s ongoing mission. This plan will soon be available on our website to reiterate our commitment to these principles and we encourage all Oklahoma Muslim organizations to join us with similar plans.
In the fight against Islamophobia, we must remember that our Black family suffer both from the weight of anti-Muslim animosity and the painful racism frequently directed at them from within their own Muslim family. We cannot demand an end to injustice while tolerating it within our own Mosques and Islamic centers. It is time to identify and eliminate the root causes of the recent painful struggles in our community: the centuries of oppression that have been leveraged against Black and brown communities since the beginning of this country’s history.
Join us in the fight to change and remove the current conditions of marginalization, economic inequality, and institutional racism and replace it with justice, equity, and liberation for us all.