American Muslims Unite Against Racism

Interview with MuslimARC Co-founder, Margari Hill

Aboutislam spoke to sister Margari Hill, co-founder of the Muslim Against Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) about the efforts and activities done by the organization to counter racism within the American Muslim community.

Aboutislam:  Who are the people behind Muslim ARC?

Hill: am one of the two co-founders, including Namira Islam our Executive Director. The original steering team who launched MuslimARC was

  • Namira Islam – lawyer and graphic designer in metro Detroit
  • Hind Makki- interfaith educator in Chicago
  • Diala Khalife- student activist in Detroit Metro
  • Margari Hill – educator and writer, living in Philadelphia at the time
  • May Alhassen – PhD student University of Southern California

Aboutislam:  What inspired you to establish this entity?

Hill:The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is a volunteer-driven education organization. Launched in early 2014, our members came together on the issues of anti-blackness and racism in Muslim communities after witnessing and/or experiencing too much of it. Together, we are working to build and collect the tools needed to creatively address and effectively challenge anti-blackness and racism in Muslim communities.

We are a group made up of imams, teachers, parents, lawyers, students, artists, and activists of all backgrounds, including varying ethnic and religious identities. Collectively, we organize Twitter hashtag conversations, crawl the web for scholarly materials, network with clergy, write articles, take classes, and examine our own privileges and biases while researching teaching methodology and community workshop models for use by the general public.

Aboutislam: What is your vision and mission at Muslim  ARC?

Hill:Our vision is for a just world. Mission: To provide education, tools, and resources to advance racial justice

Aboutislam:  What do you do at Muslim ARC to counter racism in the American Muslim community? Tell us more about your activities and efforts.

Hill:In 2014, we conducted a needs Assessment survey, with 517 respondents from across the country. We published our finding in Intra Muslim study (2015). The data showed that 82% of our participants reported experiences of racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination from society at-large. Importantly, 59% of our participants reported experiences of ethnic or racial discrimination from other Muslims. An overwhelming majority of respondents – 93% – agreed that anti-racism programming would be beneficial to the Muslim community.

Since we started we have organized Hashtag conversations, online panels, released resource posts for Black History Month, Arab Heritage Month, Asian Heritage Month, and Latino Heritage month, as well as organized Heritage campaigns exploring East Asian Muslim identity, South Asian Muslims, and Middle East and North African identities. We have given workshops across the country.

We have released free resources on our website, including Ramadan Anti-Racism guide, Black Lives Matter Toolkit, and Rebuild with Love Toolkit,

MuslimARC Impact

2014 Impact

  • Social Media Awareness & Online Advocacy
    • 16 Twitter Hashtag Conversation
    • 11 Storifys
    • 7 Online Panels, 1 Live In-Person Panel
    • 146 Tumblr Posts (tumblr.com)
  • Education – On the Ground Workshops
    • MIST Workshop – About 200 high school students at the Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament
    • Drexel AwkTalk
    • ISNA “All from Adam” Panel
    • 5 ISNA ”All from Adam” Children’s Workshops – 150 students total , with about 50 children per workshop, ages 6 to 11, learned about positive social identity and acceptance of others
    • Four monthly  “All from Adam” Youth Workshops for After school and weekend Islamic school
    • Empowering Women: Strength through Diversity conference in Nashville, TN
  • Media & Outreach
    • Dozens of Muslim and non-Muslim media pieces about our campaigns and work in such outlets as Muslimah Media Watch, Patheos, Coming of Faith, Huffington Post, AJ Stream, Al-Arabiya News, and Colorlines
    • Tabling at a Fashion Show with our “Racism 101 for Muslims” brochure and anti-colorism/shadism material
    • Fortynine13 PSA Contest
    • “We are MuslimARC” Public Service Announcement
  • Activism & Charity
    • Letters to Imams: Black History Month
    • Letters to Imams: Support the Rohingya
    • #MYIftar – Raised $400 to fight hunger
    • BlackLivesMatter Toolkit
    • Make It Plain Philly- Rally and March
    • Respond With Love: Rebuild Black Churches Destroyed by Arson raised $100K

2015 Impact

  • Social Media Awareness & Online Advocacy
    • 4827 supporters on social media and 13K tweets
    • Legacy X Black History Month Programming
    • X-Speaks Interactive Performance
    • ReMARC Blog
    • ARC Daily
  • Education –  Information and Research
    • Kremen School of Education and Human Development
    • UC Berkeley Islamophobia
    • Study of Intra-Muslim Ethnic Relations June 4th, 2015
  • Education – Trainings and Workshops
    • NBIC Addressing racism Jan 21st – 80 people
    • Imam’s Convening w/ CAIR-LA – 30
    • Islamophobia ISOC “Structural RAcism – 60
    • Get SMART- SoCal Muslim Anti-Racism Training Conference May 2nd -40
    • Versal Courses: Muslim Anti-Racism 101, Privilege in the Muslim Community, and Compassionate Communication -30
    • AMEL Intensive
  • Lectures and KeyNotes
    • Wayne State- Inclusive Practices
    • Rad Talks
    • MSA MidWest
    • Islam Awareness San Diego State
    • After Chapel Hill- UC Irvine
    • My sister’s keep CIVIC
    • Texas Dawah Convention December 2015
  • Media & Outreach
    • MuslimARC has produced original content for various publications including Islamic Monthly, AltM, Patheos, Coming of Faith, Sapelo Square, Time, and  AJE
    • Our work featured in in Huffington Post
    • “We are MuslimARC” video series
  • Activism & Charity
    • Open letter to MLI
    • Open letter in Response to Baltimore
    • Respond with Love raised $100K
    • Muslims United for San BernardinoAmerican Muslims Unite Against Racism - About Islam

2016 Impact

  • Social Media Awareness & Online Advocacy
    • over 7,000 Twitter followers
    • over 5,000 Facebook Likes
    • ARC Daily
  • Education –  Information and Research
    • ISNA Education Forum West Zone January 15, 2016

Muslim Psychology Conference, 2016

  • Education – Trainings and Workshops
    • UCLA MSA January 21, 2016
    • Muslim Interscholarstic Tournament
  • Lectures and KeyNotes
    • Black In MSA, Michigan  January 28
    • From Charleston to Chapel Hill February 10
  • Media & Outreach
    • Affordable Care Act Outreach January 2016
    • Media consulting

MuslimARC Social Media sites

MuslimARC offers an array of fee-based services related to advancing racial justice, including:

  •  Training: MuslimARC’s diverse team has led interactive workshops and trainings both on the ground and online. We can tailor our workshops to the needs and goals of a range of Muslim organizations from formats include 90 minutes discussion sessions to weekend retreats.
  •  Educational Materials & Curriculum Design: MuslimARC can create education resources and educational materials (e.g. flyers, handouts, workbooks, toolkits, fact sheets) and educator training sessions for weekend and fulltime Islamic schools, youth programs, and adult Islamic education organizations.
  •  Public Speaking & Presentations: MuslimARC’s staff has been featured as presenters and speakers at events and conferences across the country
  •  Consultations: MuslimARC can assist organizations in developing inclusive practices, diversity training, increasing digital literacy, developing social media strategies, online training for multiple learning styles, web development, and assessment of curriculum.
  •  Research and Survey Development: MuslimARC conducts research, develops studies and reports on a range of topics such as intra-Muslim ethnic relations, Structural racism and Islamophobia, role of social media in Muslim identity formation, and education.

Aboutislam:  How far do you find your efforts fruitful that it really makes a positive change?

Hill:We’ve seen how discussions on race in Muslim communities and racial justice have shifted, how national organizations have developed new policies and began to be more inclusive, and how the broader community has responded to our calls to address social issues and form stronger multiracial coalitions within the Muslim community and with other communities. We can have conversations that we weren’t able to have 10 years ago on identity, race, and social justice. The conversation on racial justice and Muslims has been sustained largely through our efforts, as well as those of Dawud Walid and Linda Sarsour.

Our campaigns have been largely successful and we’ve made a major mark. Namira Islam was a semi finalist in Forbe’s Hero X Under 30 Faith entrepreneur category September 2015/ Margari Hill was honored by Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) for Community Change Maker Award in December 2015. Three campaigns we were involved in were mentioned by President Barack Obama in his first address at a mosque: Respond with Love: Rebuild Black Churches campaign which raised over $100, Muslim United for San Bernardino campaign, which  raised over $200K, Muslims4Flint raising over 50K, and we are currently supporting the #OurThreeBrothers campaign to raise $25K.

Aboutislam:  What are the most challenging issues within the American Muslim community  that still need more efforts to be properly addressed?

Hill:Muslims all agree with the ayat in the Qur’an, hadith, and Prophet’s (s.a.w.) last sermon about us being equal, but they will will find ways to justify discrimination. We have to address implicit bias and systemic racism in this society. These are big challenges in getting people to get out of their comfort zone and begin to show up for causes that affect Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latino Americans, and Native Americans.

Aboutislam:  How do you find the activism of Muslim youth in the American society and how far are they involved in the social and political life?

Mosque attending Muslims are engaged in  their community tend involved in community, but not as engaged politically. Muslim youth have experienced tremendous pressure due to Islamophobia and political repression of Muslim Americans. For example, the Irvine 11 were convicted for a non-violent protest of the Israeli ambassador (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/09/irvine-11-sentenced-probation-no-jail-time.html)

But  this year Muslim youth joined with Black and Latino students in Chicago to shut down Trump’s rally (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trump-protesters-20160312-story.html)

This generation’s youth are sophisticated intellectually, but sometimes that can lead to a focus on activism and protest, but we definitely have to work on community organizing and pushing for change. This takes long term strategy.