Reflection on systemic racism in America by a White Muslim during this Time of Crisis

Salaam alaykum everyone. I hope that everyone reading this has been doing well and is safe in these most-challenging times that we live in.  We were already facing an unimaginable obstacle, an unseen enemy with the Covid-19 Virus, that has killed over 100,000 Americans in a matter of months with no end in sight. Now we have growing civil unrest in every American city as looters have hijacked the message of peaceful protests against systemic racism and indiscriminate killings by American police officers against Black Americans.   Over thirty cities are on fire and the protests keep growing with more ferocity. The death of George Floyd was heinous and it is a result of the racism in America that has flourished in Trump’s America.

            I have heard White people say that Blacks in California do not know their place like in the South.  I heard this as a youth and had no idea what this meant until Trump started his MAGA Movement.  It made me remember when I heard these words by a racist woman from the South.  I have heard White people say that people who come to the USA as immigrants to work in Silicon Valley are not true Americans, even their children that are born in the USA are not American.   In their mind, they are the only true Americans.  These are the people that make up the majority of the Trump base.

            Since my youth I have been a vocal critic of racism.  I remember vividly the images of Rodney King being beaten and the police being found not guilty.  The protests which turned into riots taught me a lot about what can happen if America keeps in it’s current course of preaching equality but in actual practice failing to live up to these standards.

            During this time period, I was exposed to artists such as Ice Cube, Public Enemy, NWA, Big Daddy Kane, etc that rapped about the ills perpetuated against Black people and how they can overcome.  I always played basketball, and I always played basketball with my Black friends and never thought anything of it.  However, Whites would call me an N-Word lover and a Wigger, they would insult me for having Black friends.  I spoke about racial inequality, and because I did not conform to their vision of what their perception of what ‘Whiteness’ is, I was perceived as a race traitor.  This had caused for them to try to perpetuate violence many times against me, but I was always protected, even before I was a Muslim.

            After becoming Muslim, many people would say that I became Muslim because I wanted to be Black, which is a very peculiar comment to me, because the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad PBUH was an Arab.  I still hear this to this day, they cannot accept that I chose Islam as my religious and spiritual path.  I have the right to choose my religion just like everyone else.  As a result, many Whites perceived me as some type of ‘race-traitor’.  I really experienced this in Utah as a student at Weber State.  My first week in Utah I had actual Neo-Nazi White Supremacists shoot at me by the Ogden Cemetery.

            Then after I had become the non-Traditional Student Senator at Weber State University, I had White Supremacists send me threatening messages telling me they were going to kill me on the campus.  This led to me having to have campus police escort me for a time.

            After Trump became president, the anti-Islamic rhetoric ramped up, and occasional threats that I had faced had turned into the hundreds.  Especially since I had started writing articles for the Inscriber Magazine and given a platform in which to express my opinion.  The threats got so bad that I decided to go to Tunisia.  I felt that I could not be safe in the USA as long as Trump is president.  I was told to listen for steps at my front porch; That they would rape my daughter who was two years old at that time; and many other threats.  Trump has accumulated an army of supporters that are bloodthirsty and want nothing more than to rid the USA of anyone who is not White, Straight, and Evangelical.  They deem everyone else as the enemy and want to do ethic cleansing.  We see some of these programs started at the border with the separation of families at the border, but the attacks against Black men is also about population control.

            Think about it, all of the time we see unnarmed Black men shot dead for nothing.  They are complying and doing everything that they are told, but are still slaughtered.  I will never forget seeing this video where the man had his hands on the steering wheel and the police officers were telling him different things, just so that he would move so that they had an excuse to shoot him.

            Then if Blacks do get arrested and are not killed, the sentences are not consistent with the same punishments handed to White people. Where a White person might get a slap on the wrist for smoking marijuana for example, they will give a Black man in many instances’ years in prison.  We are always hearing situations where Black people are given decades in prison for stealing something worth like only ten dollars, it is just not just.  This is all about preventing the Black man from reproducing more children.  We need to be honest.

            There is also an attack to make Black women look like a welfare queen who is lazy and just has child after child from multiple men.  That they do not care about the children but only look at the children as a welfare check.  This is insulting.  On average, Black women, per capita, have more master’s degrees than any other demographic.  It also ignores the fact, than on average, a White Male High School Dropout makes more money than a Black woman with a master’s degree.  Now how does that even make sense?  If this statistic does not prove systemic racism, then nothing does.

            Now I cannot say how it feels to be Black in America, but I can sympathize because I am Muslim in America.  Another target of White America’s disdain.  I can however speak out about some of my experience that I have had while with Black Americans, and I can tell you, it is eye-opening.

            My first experience that I can remember was when I was around 16 or 17 years old.  Me and my friends had just got done playing basketball and we wanted to get a bite to eat at Taco Bell.  There were 5 of us and we were all in the same car.  I was the only White person and I was in the back seat in the middle.  The police pulled us over and pulled me out.  They asked me why was I with Black people?  This was very odd for me.  This was in Redding, California on Cypress Avenue.  It was not what one would call ‘The Hood’.  We were just high school kids wanting to eat.  I told the police officer they were my friends from school, and that we were on our way to eat.  It was a surreal moment for me.

            I was pulled over as a passenger in a car in Sacramento with another one of my Black friends.  The police officer lied and said that we were not wearing seatbelts.  They assumed my friend was bad just because he was Black yet he probably had a higher level of education than they did.  He was a business owner and an upstanding member of society. There is also the question they always ask Blacks, but not the Whites when they pull them over, “Is anyone on probation or parole”. This question shows that they presume that the person they are pulling over is a criminal.

            I will never forget in one of my Sociology classes seeing a document from the Baltimore Police Department that anyone who is Black, Latino, or Asian, men or women, in any combination should be viewed as suspicious and treated accordingly.  They actually had a policy to stereotype and try to assume every ethnic minority was perceived as a criminal and should be treated as such.  This is dangerous and this is the type of mentality that leads to the dehumanization of Blacks and why we see them murdered by police at such a high rate.

            They do this to appease the White majority.  Whites hate seeing other ethnic groups in their neighborhoods.  If a Black person moved into their neighborhood, they would say, “There goes the neighborhood”.  They viewed that their property value would go down and that crime would go up.  This led to the term of White Flight, where White people moved to suburbs in order to live with just other White people.

            I have lost count on how many times I have heard people say that whenever they go to such-and-such place that they were the only White person that they saw.  They feel intimidated, and they are the only group of people that want to be segregated from other groups.  Then they do not want competition.  They hate seeing other groups as successful.  That is why in situations such as with Black Wall Street where there were many successful Black businesses that the Whites destroyed their neighborhoods.  This mentality permeates to this day and has led to the rise of Trump.

            In my opinion, the only solution to racism in America is Islam.  Even Malcolm X understood this after he made his Hajj to Makkah.  Islam is a religion that forbids racism.  Racism is such an important topic that the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon was against racism.  He said that, “Blacks are not better than Whites, and Whites are not better than Backs.  That Arabs are not better then non-Arabs, and that non-Arabs are not better than Arabs.  People are only better in their piety and remembrance of Allah swt,” which is an individual trait and not a group trait.

            Also, Allah swt tells us in the Qur’an that the different ethnic groups were created to marvel at the beauty and diversity of the creation of Allah swt and to learn and benefit from each other, not to fight each other.  We are all one humanity and should learn to love one another.

            When someone says that they do not see color, this is not true.  They act like acknowledging the different ethnicities is a bad thing.  However, we should recognize the different ethnic groups and celebrate the diversity.  Every ethnic group has something we can learn from and makes life better.  There are cultural practices that we can see that makes sense and can add into our lives that we were not exposed to.  We can learn new recipes, as well as be exposed to new ways of thinking.  We all will grow from this.

            America has a problem and we need to acknowledge this. Racism is a disease, and one of the vilest of sins.  Racism is a type of Satanism, people that are racist are Satanic.  Their evilness spreads through the community and is passed down.  It needs to be stopped.  Either everyone is treated equal and we prosper and succeed together, or America falls, and we all suffer together.  There is no middle ground.  We are now in the moment of truth.

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