Shenila Khoja-Moolji: On why #BlackLivesMatter should matter to non-Black Muslims

Shenila Khoja-Moolji in the NYTimesIn a system that privileges Whiteness, it is enticing for fellow South Asian/non-Black Muslims to distance themselves from Blacks. Indeed, South Asians in general have benefit from propping themselves up as the ‘model minority.’ In an environment of pervasive and vicious anti-Black violence, this strategy appears to be a logical resort for South Asian community leaders and members. After all, it at least shields them from the current on-going violence. However, I argue that this logic is shortsighted and, more importantly, deviates from the very basic values of the Muslim faith.

The recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the lack of indictment for previous similar shootings, are merely the current episodes in a long series of practices that represent anti-blackness. Anti-blackness is more than just about discrimination and state-violence; it is about the devaluation of the black body. It is an ideology that portrays the black body as a partial version of full (implicitly White) humanity, even to the extent of reducing it to a thing. Mike Brown’s body, for instance, was described as “it” and “demon” in Darren Wilson’s testimony. Anti-blackness pervades not only in the United States but also globally; it is visible in the mob attacks against Blacks in India and China, and in the abuse of black labor in the UAE.

One of the effects of anti-blackness is the ready uptake of assumptions about Blackness and criminality that we, as a society, have come to believe as the truth (see Giuliani on ‘black crime’). You and I, juries and police – all of us alike – draw on these assumptions to dismiss the increasing incidence of direct violence against Blacks; let alone the indirect, institutional practices of discrimination embedded in our schooling, housing, and legal systems.

However, if fellow South Asian Muslims believe that a temporary distancing from Black lives in the current moment can yield long-term privileges of Whiteness, then they are quite mistaken. The same racial logics that are applied to Blacks are also applied to Brown Muslim bodies (recall Trump’s call to ban all Muslims or Gingrich’s Sharia Test!). In fact, without seriously addressing anti-blackness, we cannot achieve racial justice for our own communities.

More at the source: By Shenila Khoja-Moolji – Huffington Post’s Contributor platform – 07/17/2016 – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry

 

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Author: ismailimail

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