South Asians for Black Power: On Anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, and Complicity

We are a collective of South Asians in the U.S. invested in unpacking the legacy of 9/11 in our communities. We are committed to drawing connections between Islamophobia, caste-based oppression, privilege and complicity, xenophobia and profiling, and anti-Blackness in ourselves, our communities, and the imperial U.S.

We invite you to join us, and sign on to this statement below.


As white supremacist structures of hierarchy continue to conflate markers of race and religion, South Asians in the U.S. are often racialized as Muslim or seen as “terrorist threats.” As people often racialized as Muslim, whether we identify or not, we understand that our own profiling, criminalization, detention and deportation is intimately tied to the struggle for Black Lives Matter in this country.

Earlier this year, we watched in horror as Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian grandfather in Madison, Alabama, was paralyzed by a police officer for walking around his son’s neighborhood. He was mistaken for Black, recognized as a South Asian immigrant, and deemed disposable. Our communities face colonization in the U.S., living in a colonial police state that sometimes grants the wealthy amongst us privilege while brutally policing working-class brown bodies. Our communities face imperialism abroad, where Black and brown bodies are deemed “collateral damage,” from Palestine, to Pakistan, to Syria. Historically marginalized caste communities experience the majority of this violence, whether in the U.S., in South Asia, or elsewhere in the diaspora. 

We understand that police terror, colonialism, and imperialism are all intricately connected to anti-Blackness. The U.S. was built on the ideology that Black bodies were less than human, disposable, and deserving of violence. The South Asian experience and Hindu fundamentalist imposition of caste has constructed similar power dynamics, that continue to reverberate through our communities in the United States and abroad. We must struggle with the fact that we have benefited off of and been complicit in this stolen labor and harm, not just in the past but also presently, within and outside of our own diaspora. We stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, knowing that Black power is inextricably tied to our own liberation as well.


As South Asians committed to justice, we recognize that Muslims bear the brunt of pre- and post-9/11 Islamophobia, a system of  state-sanctioned violence that targets Muslim communities at home and abroad. Muslim communities have been victims of state-sanctioned violence in the United States since the early African Muslims were kidnapped and brought as slaves into colonized lands, for the purposes of building America’s wealth and empire. Prior to 9/11, Muslim Americans were targeted and surveilled for participating in the Black Liberation Movement and the Palestinian Liberation movements through programs such as COINTELPRO. We also recognize that Black Muslims have experienced the brunt of state violence through Jim Crow, mass incarceration, police brutality, and structural anti-black racism.

Since 9/11, the War on Terror has institutionalized violence that mainly targets Muslim communities and views Muslims as suspicious, perpetual foreigners and threats. This visceral form of state-sanctioned violence has destroyed the lives of millions of Muslims globally.

According to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PRS), approximately 1.2 million-2 million Muslims have been killed as a result of the War on Terror since 9/11. The estimate for Muslims killed since the nineties due to US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other countries is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of 4 million Muslims.

Since “Muslim” has been racialized as South Asian, Arab, Sikh, Black, immigrant, and is used as a dehumanizing term, our subset of communities are constantly grappling with the fear of hate crimes and marginalization. Profiling programs such as “special registration”, preemptive prosecutions, the use of entrapments, targeted killings, torture, drones, suspension of basic due process rights, deportations, and the massive surveillance of Muslim community spaces is an attempt to punish Muslims for being Muslim.

Today, we remember all of the families who have been torn asunder by the “war on terror” and the rush to criminalize and conflate race and religion. We remember that this anti-Muslim violence continues into the present day. This past year, three students at UNC-Chapel Hill were gunned down execution style because of their religion. We  want to remember the victims of Oak Creek, and brother Inderjit Singh Mukker, a 53 year old Sikh American resident who was violently beaten by someone who screamed anti-Muslim slurs at him, called him a terrorist, and told him to leave the country. We also want to remember the name of Usaama Rahim, who was killed at a bus stop in Boston by the joint terrorism task force and never received his due process. We also want to think of all the family members whose loved ones are suffering in solitary confinement or Communication Management Units (CMU) in federal prisons from confessions takes through torture and entrapment.

We remember too that the U.S. surveillance machine was perfected on the backs of the Black Freedom Struggle, with operations like COINTELPRO designed to find and eliminate “threats” to the state. We also remember that intersectionality means that certain subsets of Muslim communities experience state violence on multiple fronts.  On the anniversary of this day, that intensified the policing and fear-mongering in our South Asian communities, we come together to stand in solidarity with Muslim communities and affirm #Justice4Muslims. We also affirm  Black Lives Matter as the liberation of non-Black South Asians is tied to the liberation of Black people globally. We also affirm that our liberation is tied to the liberation of all oppressed communities of color globally who are suffering as a result of US-sponsored state violence.


We also recognize the immense privilege that we receive, as participants – willing or unwilling – in the ideology of the model minority. We commit ourselves to challenging complacency and rewriting our own racialized narratives.

We acknowledge our complicity in settler colonial violence, as inhabitants of this very land. We commit ourselves to fighting for our own liberation, and for the liberation of all oppressed peoples. This means that we proudly declare that #BlackLivesMatter. We commit to undoing anti-Blackness at home, working against Islamophobia, and challenging our identity within the model minority myth.


Sasha W., National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Queer South Asian National Network (QSANN)
Darakshan Raja, Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
S.D. Shah
Divya Sundar
Lakshmi Sundaresan
Radha Modi, Phd Candidate, UPenn, Philadelphia
Virali, Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS)

Part of challenging anti-Blackness in ourselves and our communities is crafting a new narrative of what it means to be South Asian in the U.S. If you (as an individual) and/or your organization also commit yourselves to these lenses, please sign on below or email We will update the list below throughout the day.


Almas Haider KhushDC Washington, D.C.
Alliance of South Asians Taking Action California
KhushDC Washington, DC
Sophia Zaman Chicago, IL
Priyanka Amin-Patel San Jose, CA
Priya Rai Seattle, WA
Anushka Aqil Atlanta, GA
Greeshma Somashekar
Rabia Syed Brooklyn, NY
Zainab Badi Oakland,CA
Bix Gabriel
Khalida Sethi Philadelphia, PA
Anjali Misra Madison, WI
Shiva Patel Energy Solidarity Cooperative Oakland
Sameer Rao
Shrestha Singh Harvard Divinity School Fremont, CA, USA
nikhil trivedi Chicago, IL, USA
Samara Azam-Yu ACCESS Women’s Health Justice Oakland, CA
Surbhi Godsay
Divya Sundar Berkeley, CA
Naazneen Diwan South Asians for Justice LA Los Angeles
Meghna Chandra Philadelphia, PA
Samiha Rahman UPenn Philadelphia
Medha Ghosh Philadelphia South Asian Collective
gayatri singh san diego, ca
Chagan Sanathu Berkeley, CA
Robindra Nath Banerji Moody’s Analytics West Cbester, PA
Maarya Abbasi
kiran nigam Philadelphia South Asian Collective Philadelphia, PA
Harsimran Kaur Bagri Seattle, WA
Sumayyah Waheed
SS Silver Spring
Amita Lonial Chicago, IL
Sabrina Ghaus Boston, MA
Mehreen Kasana NYC
Amman Desai
Nikhil Umesh Chapel Hill, NC
Anaar Desai-Stephens Ph.d candidate, Cornell University New York
Lovepreet Gill Los Angeles
Radasians Chapel Hill, NC
Rashida Basrai Mountain View, CA
Sheena Sood PhD Candidate, Temple University Philadelphia
Fernando Espiritu South Central Los Angeles
Sanjana Lakshmi San Jose, CA
Sonalee Rashatwar Philadelphia South Asian Collective PHL, PA, USA
Sara Husain Akron, Ohio
Farukh Basrai Mountain View, CA
Muhammed Malik Muslims for Ferguson/Philadelphia South Asian Collective Philadelphia, PA
M. Shapna Islam Phoenix, AZ
Huma Dar Berkeley, CA, USA
Rosalie Chan Northwestern University Chicago, IL
Saema Adeeb Cupertino, CA
S. Charusheela
Ayesha Ibrahim UCLA
Ashiqur Rahman
Anirvan Chatterjee Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour Berkeley, CA
Deepa Vasudevan india
Lakshmi Sridaran South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) National
Chandani Patel Chicago, IL
Aqdas Aftab pittsburgh
Vanita Patel Boulder, CO
Jishava Patel Worcester, MA
Eram Alam UPenn Philadelphia
Naina khanna Oakland
Rohima Miah Raleigh, NC
Sunday Kumar Chicago IL
Vivek Anand Berkeley, CA
Meena Muru Los Angeles
Jannat Majeed Washington, DC
Juhi Verma Brooklyn/NY
Radha Radkar New York
Shanella Gandharry Ny, New York
Ronak Kapadia Chicago, IL
Dedunu Suraweera East Coast Solidarity Summer New York, NY
gita mehrotra Portland, OR USA
Sino Esthappan Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY
Nafisa Kaptownwala Lorde Inc. Toronto
Raina Satija Philadelphia South Asian Collective Philadelphia, PA
Jasveen Sarna New Jersey
Annu D. Durham, NC
Aditi Kambuj Seattle, WA
Alejandro Banuelos MEChA Los Angeles
Sham-e-Ali Nayeem Philadelphia, PA
Shruti Purkayastha Los Angeles
Manali Souda
Eshani Dixit East Coast Solidarity Summer New Brunswick, NJ
Anandi A Premlall SustyQ (Sustainable Queens) Queens
Leila Sidi Edmonton/AB/CAN
Nidhi Kashyap Milwaukee, WI
Davina Simone Brooklyn, NY
Sritha K Masala Militia Toronto
Mahroh Jahangiri Washington, D
Divya Nair Community College of Philadelphia Philadelphia, PA
Nazia Kazi Philadelphia PA
Trisha Barua
Abhilasha Bhola Los Angeles
Sana Javed Washington, D.C.
Nissar Ahmed * Rohnert Park, California
Kashfi Fahim Richmond Hill, NY
Vivek Venkatraman Mountain View, California
Leya Mathew
Swati Bhargava Zuni, NM
Kripi Malviya TATVA Center India
Seema Rupani Asians 4 Black Lives Fremont/CA/USA
Mirza Alam NewYork
Seemantani Sharma The George Washington University Washington,DC
Fatina Husseini
Aseem Mulji Oakland
Maria Basrai Diamond Bar, CA
Priya Shanker
Tehreem Rehman
Rishi Saraswat Fremont
Fatima Jaffer Trikone Vancouver Vancouver/Canada
Mithra Korukonda
Kartik Amarnath New York, NY
Derek Wong Boston, MA
Leonie Barkakati Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center Amherst, MA
Sapna Pandya Many Languages One Voice Washington, DC
Alejandro Banuelos MEChA Los Angeles
Sal Salam Trikone Chicago Chicago
Mehreen Haider Arlington, Texas, USA
lasitha Washington, DC
Saba Taj Durham NC
Chinmayee Balachandra Santa Barbara/CA
Maya Mackrandilal Chicago, IL, USA
Manju Rajendran Durham, North Carolina
Dhruv Pathak United Students Against Sweatshops Charlotte, NC
Kulsoom Ijaz VA
samir shrestha students for a free tibet oakland

QSANN Strategy Meeting: August 6, 2015

Join us at the QSANN Strategy Meeting!


The Strategy Meeting is closed to members only. But wait! If:

  • You have experience organizing and participating in queer South Asian organizations,
  • You are interested in supporting queer South Asian leaders and organizations at a national level,
  • You are committed to being engaged an engaged meeting participant and future QSANN member, and
  • You register for the Strategy Meeting by August 1 (July 31, 11:59 pm) [Our deadline is to allow time for you to receive and complete the pre-work. This has been extended for those who registered through NQAPIA registration page],
  • Then we’d love to have you join us!

We’re expecting all meeting participants to complete pre-work before attending. We’re also expecting meeting participants to review all the previous meeting minutes, group actions, and any work we’ve done thus far. There’s a lot of work to be done, so we’d like to hit the ground running. No latecomers please.

Our agenda:

  • Introductions and breakfast
  • Mapping Queer South Asian organizing (organizations, organizing, communities)
  • Mini-Strategic planning
  • Goal-setting
  • Lunch
  • Priorities
  • 2-year work plan
  • Next steps and closing

One last thing: You must be registered for the NQAPIA 2015 Pre-conference, either for the full conference or for the one-day option.

Register for QSANN here: RSVP for the meeting using the meeting sign-up form.

Register for the NQAPIA conference here:

It Starts at Home: Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities

It Starts at Home: Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities

Created by the Queer South Asian National Network, based on curriculum from East Coast Solidarity Summer. Modified by Sasha W., Monica, and Radha, based on curriculum by Sasha A. and Sheena.


We are a group of queer South Asians who believe that undoing anti-Blackness starts at home: in our families, given and chosen; in our communities; in the intimate spaces where conflict can often be hardest.

We understand that this should not be the work of Black people: this is our work, and it always has been. We understand that we will never be free until Black people are also free; our freedom is bound up, inextricably, in Black liberation.

We are committed to doing this work, and to providing the tools for other South Asian organizations, communities, leaders, and more to do this work. We hope that this guide is useful for other South Asians to hold these conversations within their own communities. You can download the PDF version of this guide here.


  • Understanding anti-Black racism
  • Breaking down how we are socialized to understand and reject Blackness
  • Acknowledging and addressing what anti-Black racism looks like in our personal lives and communities
  • Developing culturally competent ways of addressing anti-Black racism
  • Laying the groundwork for effective allyship with Black communities that acknowledges privileges and shared oppressions
  • Develop practical skills to fight anti-Black racism and support the #BlackLivesMatter movement
  • Practice interrupting oppression


  • Chart paper & markers
  • Paper for participants to draw
  • Crayons/colored pencils/markers


  • Ideally 2 hours
  • For a 1 hour version, run the following sections:
    • Opening
    • Why Are We Talking About This Now?
    • Starting With Our Socialization
    • Bringing it Home



To download in PDF format, click here.

It Starts at Home:
Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities

OPENING (10 minutes)


  • Ask everyone to introduce themselves with names and preferred gender pronouns (PGPs). If anyone is unsure, explain that PGPs are how you want to be referred to, e.g. he, she, they, etc. If there’s less than 10 people, also ask participants to say why they are here.

Community Agreements

  • Ask everyone: what do you need in order to participate here?
  • Take note of different answers. Leave the notes in a visible place.


Drawing Exercise

  • Explain that we’re going to ground this conversation in our own personal experiences of racism: both experiencing and perpetuating racism. To start, ask everyone to draw their response to the following prompts:
    • Think about a time when you experienced racism in your own life. What was this experience? What was your response? If you haven’t experienced racism, why may that be?
    • Think about a time when you perpetuated racism? What was this experience? What was it like?


  • Ask for a few people to share. Make sure to ask for examples of both experiencing and perpetuating racism.
  • If participants are highlighting only experiencing racism, speak to that. Ask participants why it’s easier to talk about experiencing racism than perpetuating it.


Historical Context

  • Explain the importance of talking about South Asian anti-Blackness in this particular historical moment. You can use the talking points below:
    • The movements around #BlackLivesMatter, in response to Michael Brown’s murder in Ferguson and Eric Garner’s in Staten Island, have reinvigorated a national conversation around race. As South Asians, we have a complicated racial position in the U.S.: our communities experience racism, but also often perpetuate racism, especially against Black communities in the U.S.
    • Many of us have experienced racism – for some of us, this is because we live in a post-9/11 world. For others of us, racism is a daily part of life. However, we rarely create space to do our own work – to think about the ways in which we actually perpetuate racism, specifically against Black communities.

Our Definition of Racism

  • This definition of racism is taken from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. Explain racism as prejudice + power using the talking points below:
    • Keep in mind our working definition of racism: Racism = prejudice + power. Because South Asians are often seen as less threatening, and sometimes as wealthy, we have conditional power in society. When that power is combined with prejudice, against other people of color, we are perpetuating systemic racism.


Large Group Discussion

  • Explain that we’re going to start from the beginning: with our first introductions to Blackness and Black people. We need to understand the source of our anti-Black racism in order to challenge it.
  • Guide discussion using the following questions:
    • At birth:
      • Ask: What do we know about racism when we are first brought into the world?
      • Nothing! All of our socialization around race is learned. We are going to work on unpacking that learning.
    • First socialization:
      • Ask: What do you recall as being your first socialization around Blackness? What’s the first thing you remember learning or experiencing with or about people of African descent?
      • What was this like?
      • What messages did you receive?
      • Reinforcement:
        • Ask: How is this first socialization reinforced?
  • What are or were the institutions and cultural factors that reinforced this first socialization?
      • Examples can include: media, family gatherings, school, etc.
      • Why didn’t you ignore these messages?
    • Present day:
      • Ask: How is anti-Blackness continuously reinforced  in our communities?
      • How does this make us feel?
      • Have these feelings ever made you feel good/powerful/safe? How/why?


  • Highlight the importance of acknowledging that we live in a country built on anti-Blackness. It’s part of our laws, our economy–our “justice” system. We need to recognize how we contribute to that anti-Blackness in order to confront it.


Large Group Discussion

  • Thank everyone for sharing their own continuing socialization around anti-Blackness. This is powerful, but also vulnerable work. Acknowledge that it can be hard to see only the ways that we perpetuate racism–without acknowledging and brainstorming the ways that we actively resist.
  • Guide discussion using the following questions:
    • Ask: Are we committed to undoing anti-Black racism in our own communities?
      • We need to be. In many ways, that is the role that we need to play in this burgeoning movement: We need to challenge the ways that our communities participate in anti-Black racism.
    • Ask: What are ways that we already do this?
      • Take ideas from the group. If participants are having trouble coming up with examples, invite them to talk in pairs. Hang this list up.

Bringing It Home

  • There is always someone, or maybe many people, who we absolutely dread having these conversations with. Who is that for you?
    • Ask: Who are the two people that you can’t imagine having this conversation with? Who is it hardest to confront?
      • Take a couple of answers from the group. Answers often involve our families, given and chosen.
    • Write down those 2 people in your life whom it’s hardest to confront. Think of at least 3 strategies you could use to interrupt anti-Black racism with them.
      • Remember that these strategies can be big or small: bringing someone with you to a protest, talking about the prison industrial system, highlighting Black leadership in your city, talking about moments you’ve stood up against racism, or anything else.


  • Ask a few people to share out. Write down strategies folks come up with and put them up in the room.



  • Thank everyone for sharing, and give people a moment to take a deep breath. Acknowledge that this is a hard topic, and hard conversations to even imagine!
  • Announce that the group is going to role-play a couple of these hard conversations.
    • Ask for a volunteer who is willing to model the strategies they just wrote out. They will act as themselves.
    • Ask this volunteer to give life to the situation: who are they talking to, what is the context? E.g. my dad and I are watching the Lakers game after he gets home from work.
    • Ask for another volunteer to act as the first volunteer’s “dreaded conversation” person.
    • Role-play. Allow the conversation to go on for 5 minutes max.


  • Applaud your volunteers!
  • Ask them to reflect first:
    • How was that for you?
    • How are you feeling?
  • Ask the room:
    • What went well?
    • What could either volunteer have done differently?
  • Role-play 1-2 more times, depending on how much time you have.
  • During the debrief, acknowledge that these ‘dreaded’ conversations are ongoing and may not have breakthroughs after the first time.  It is important, nontheless, to continue having these conversations with friends and family.

CONCLUSION (15 mins)


  • Reflect on what the group has done in a short amount of time: you’ve identified your own experiences perpetuating racism, interrogated where that racism comes from for you, and brainstormed and practiced ways to interrupt anti-Black racism, in big ways and small. These are all crucial pieces of change work, especially for non-Black communities of color. We need to change ourselves, first.
  • Ask: What’s one way that you will use the information from this workshop when you leave here? If there are less than 10 people, invite everybody to share. If there are more, invite everyone to share with a partner, and then take a few examples.
  • Thank everybody for coming. Make sure you get contact information (email addresses, phone numbers, etc.)
  • Give everyone a copy of this curriculum when they leave, and encourage them to have these conversations with their people.

FOLLOW UP (After the Workshop)

  • Please let us know how it went! Fill out the google form below:

A Week of Queer South Asian Rage

A Week of Queer South Asian Rage:
A Statement by QSANN, the Queer South Asian National Network

We live in a nation that doesn’t value our lives. President Barack Obama insists that we live in a “nation of laws.” He’s right; we do. We live in a nation of laws where we, as people of color, as immigrants, are less than human. We are denied the right to be with our families, to feel safe in public space, to be American, to live. We are a nation of laws that do not protect us. We are a nation of laws designed to keep us out, to keep us scared, and to keep us running.

As a national network of queer South Asians, it’s been a rough week. We witnessed a huge victory and an utter disappointment in President Obama’s announcement of administrative relief around immigration. As a community of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants, these decisions impact us. We celebrate those of us whose lives will be immeasurably improved by deferred action and temporary protection from deportation, and we mourn with those who will continue to face the daily fears and indignities of being seen as “illegal” simply because they lack papers. We celebrate improvements to DACA and our visa system, while waiting to find out how LGBT families will be affected by this ruling.

Black & Brown Lives Matter

We also mourn the failure of our American justice system to indict Darren Wilson. We watched, enraged, as yet another murder of a young unarmed Black man went unanswered. We watched as news networks immediately focused on the ‘violence’ of protesters who demanded Black life be valued, instead of focusing on the failure of our ‘justice system’ to condemn state-sanctioned violence. We stand with Mike Brown, and Ferguson, and we understand that while we will never experience the degree of violence that Black people are subject to every day, our struggles are deeply connected.

Although we are also people of color in the U.S., our South Asian experiences of state violence vary greatly. As race, class and the model minority myth intertwine, many of us cannot understand the deep-seated fear of police shared by so many communities of color. And yet, depending on our access to wealth, immigration status, perceived religion, gender presentation, skin color, and more–many of us also experience state violence and police brutality regularly. We are stopped and frisked, beaten and bloodied, by the police. We continue to be  surveilled, apprehended and deported, dealing with the onslaught of overt and covert Islamophobic attacks in a post-9/11 world. We fear for the safety and lives of our brothers, and our siblings, especially those who look darker, bearded and threatening. We fear that they too may be disappeared, beaten, taken. We know that their only crime is their perceived proximity to “terror” and to Blackness. Racism against us as South Asians does not exist in a vacuum; the racism we experience builds on long-standing systems of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in the U.S. We know that our own liberation is inextricably bound to the struggle for Black lives and immigrant lives to matter in this country.

As queer and trans* people, especially of color, we face violence sanctioned by the state, by police, and by ICE. Queer people, trans* people, and especially transwomen are disproportionately sentenced to solitary confinement, and solitary detention, for no crime other than our sexuality or gender. As queer people, we also face different forms of intimate violence, too often sanctioned by our families, our communities, and those we love. Despite the rhetoric of family unification so prevalent in the immigrant rights’ movement, many of us, though not all of us, understand family as an intimate site of contestation. Many of us are used to having difficult conversations with those closest to us, coming out endlessly about our sexualities, our genders, our politics, and more. As queer people, we know that violence comes in many forms, and that our families, given and chosen, are also sites of struggle.

In light of these recent events, we re-commit ourselves to bringing the revolution home. We re-commit ourselves to talking about Ferguson with those closest to us. We pledge to combat the anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiments that run rampant in so many queer and South Asian spaces at the most basic level–interpersonal, one by one, within our families, however we define them. We promise to do the inter-community work that only we can do. As we paint signs, show up to rallies, raise our collective voices and stand in solidarity–we also commit to doing the work in the spaces where it’s often hardest, in the many places we call home.

As queer South Asian organizers, activists, brothers, sisters, siblings, friends, and more, we stand with immigrants, with Black communities, with communities of color, and with the people of Ferguson. Black lives matter. Immigrant lives matter. We demand that our “nation of laws” recognize us all as human, as whole people deserving of respect and dignity. We stand together until none of us are left behind.

We’ll meet you at home, and we’ll see you in the streets.

In solidarity,
QSANN, the Queer South Asian National Network

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