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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We will update the list below throughout the day.
|Almas Haider||KhushDC||Washington, D.C.|
|Alliance of South Asians Taking Action||California|
|Sophia Zaman||Chicago, IL|
|Priyanka Amin-Patel||San Jose, CA|
|Priya Rai||Seattle, WA|
|Anushka Aqil||Atlanta, GA|
|Rabia Syed||Brooklyn, NY|
|Khalida Sethi||Philadelphia, PA|
|Anjali Misra||Madison, WI|
|Shiva Patel||Energy Solidarity Cooperative||Oakland|
|Shrestha Singh||Harvard Divinity School||Fremont, CA, USA|
|nikhil trivedi||Chicago, IL, USA|
|Samara Azam-Yu||ACCESS Women’s Health Justice||Oakland, CA|
|Divya Sundar||Berkeley, CA|
|Naazneen Diwan||South Asians for Justice LA||Los Angeles|
|Meghna Chandra||Philadelphia, PA|
|Medha Ghosh||Philadelphia South Asian Collective|
|gayatri singh||san diego, ca|
|Chagan Sanathu||Berkeley, CA|
|Robindra Nath Banerji||Moody’s Analytics||West Cbester, PA|
|kiran nigam||Philadelphia South Asian Collective||Philadelphia, PA|
|Harsimran Kaur Bagri||Seattle, WA|
|Amita Lonial||Chicago, IL|
|Sabrina Ghaus||Boston, MA|
|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|
|Anirvan Chatterjee||Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour||Berkeley, CA|
|Lakshmi Sridaran||South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)||National|
|Chandani Patel||Chicago, IL|
|Vanita Patel||Boulder, CO|
|Jishava Patel||Worcester, MA|
|Rohima Miah||Raleigh, NC|
|Sunday Kumar||Chicago IL|
|Vivek Anand||Berkeley, CA|
|Meena Muru||Los Angeles|
|Jannat Majeed||Washington, DC|
|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|
|Eshani Dixit||East Coast Solidarity Summer||New Brunswick, NJ|
|Anandi A Premlall||SustyQ (Sustainable Queens)||Queens|
|Nidhi Kashyap||Milwaukee, WI|
|Davina Simone||Brooklyn, NY|
|Sritha K||Masala Militia||Toronto|
|Mahroh Jahangiri||Washington, DC|
|Sanober Umar||Queen’s University||Kingston|
|Divya Nair||Community College of Philadelphia||Philadelphia, PA|
|Nazia Kazi||Philadelphia PA|
|Abhilasha Bhola||Los Angeles|
|Sana Javed||Washington, D.C.|
|Nissar Ahmed||*||Rohnert Park, California|
|Kashfi Fahim||Richmond Hill, NY|
|Vivek Venkatraman||Mountain View, California|
|Swati Bhargava||Zuni, NM|
|Kripi Malviya||TATVA Center||India|
|Seema Rupani||Asians 4 Black Lives||Fremont/CA/USA|
|Seemantani Sharma||The George Washington University||Washington,DC|
|Maria Basrai||Diamond Bar, CA|
|Fatima Jaffer||Trikone Vancouver||Vancouver/Canada|
|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|
|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|
|samir shrestha||students for a free tibet||oakland|