OP-ED: Breaking the Cycle of Anti-Black Racism in Canada
By: Samina Zubairi
As a Muslim community, we must recognize the diversity of experiences that exist within us.For Muslims who identify as Black, the tragic news of the murder of George Floyd might hit closer to home than others. How can Muslims at such times offer support to the greater community at large? How can we recognize the roles that we play as allies, advocates and unfortunately, contributors to the systemic discrimination the people of colour and in particular those of the Black community continue to experience.
We must listen. Listen to the voices of those impacted by such an atrocity. We must
acknowledge their pain, frustration and anger. Simply put- the anger that is resulting from the murder of George Floyd is valid. We have to give ears to those voices and be a shoulder for them to lean on.
We must acknowledge our own biases. The events that unfolded leading to his death/killing and the resulting consequences demonstrate the true reality that someone has to lose their life on color/racial differences in such a brutal manner for us to begin to care. And we might care for some time, write a post about it, donate to a cause, etc… Overtime, however, it is forgotten and another case comes to the forefront. The unconscious biases of individuals are the very factor that make it difficult to overcome and end racism. We must be aware of racism that is inside all of us.
What is happening in the U.S. is not just about George Floyd, rather it is a built-up expression of frustration and anger of the lived experiences of people of colour, particularly the Black community and their voices not being heard. Unfortunately, we all have this problem, and must first as a society hold ourselves accountable of our internal biases. The fact is that our focus should not solely be on this one particular incident but of the reality of the discrimination and limited access to resources that people of colour have experienced over many years.
We must be allies. Protests are screams of the unheard, we must provide them with a
platform through which they can be heard. The Black community has continuously been
racially profiled and come into contact with the criminal justice system at a disproportionate rate. They have had to witness the countless murders by the very same institutions (law enforcement) who are supposed to protect them. They are deemed a threat before evenhaving a chance to explain themselves. This is what the Black community experience everyday. They are angry and exhausted. As Muslims, can we not relate? Can we not empathize with the extreme measures the Black Community (many of whom are Muslim) are going just to be heard and impact change. If this still does not lead to any change, then we as a community must continue to advocate and be allies.
We as a community might not fully understand how and when things will progress towards the better, but we can lend our ears to break this cycle of discrimination and racism. Change happens with true and honest reflection. Breaking the cycle means starting with you. Be part of the solution and not part of a problem. We are a collective. We are together. Now it is time to prove it.
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