During a time in which the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately infecting and killing Black people, Black communities are also still fighting white supremacy. The police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and David McAtee, along with the civilian murder of Ahmaud Arbery are sadly the latest in a long tradition of U.S. white supremacist suffocation of Black life, beginning with the transatlantic slave trade to the creation of U.S. policing as slavery was abolished to today. Police violence is inflected differently for Black cis women, Black trans and nonbinary people, Black cis men, and Black disabled people, but anti-Blackness is the thread that stitches this violence together.
As a result of police brutality, we call first and foremost for the officers and civilians involved in the premature death of Black people to be brought to justice. We also call for a broad defunding and dismantling of the police, in our cities and towns and on our campuses.
We reaffirm the commitment of the Arab and Muslim American Studies program at the University of Michigan to a community-based social justice curriculum that values the full diversity of Arabs and Muslims in the United States.
We call particularly on non-Black Arabs and non-Black Muslims to eradicate anti-Blackness from within our communities, through the following actions:
● Educate ourselves and each other about the history of Arab involvement in the enslavement of Black Africans
● Stop the perpetuation of “Arab supremacy” in Muslim communities
● Educate ourselves and each other about the status and disenfranchisement of Black people in many Arab- and Muslim-majority nations
● Correct any derogatory language through which our community members refer to Black people
● Interrogate and re-examine the ways in which we may participate in and benefit from proximity to whiteness vis-a-vis Black people
Many may think to make the connections between the militarization of U.S. police and training U.S. police forces in Israel or transferring decommissioned military equipment used in the “War on Terror” to local police departments. They may see these connections as opportunities to mobilize support for Black lives and to eradicate anti-Blackness. Indeed, they are. But let us be clear: our support for Black lives must rest primarily upon deep love for Black people and an unwavering drive to see anti-Blackness eradicated. We urge non-Black Arabs and non-Black Muslims to also consider and strengthen their own commitments to upholding Black life and Black communities, along with all interconnected struggles.