- The Breakdown
- June Gloom is finally gone 🤠
June Gloom is finally gone 🤠
Plus, Black Muslims' experiences in L.A. and our first in-person event.
Good morning everyone, and happy Friday! To kick off your weekend, we’re coming at you with the latest from AfroLA.
But first, I want to shout out our first in-person event, an Environmental Justice Community Forum, held last Thursday. The event centered reporting from our new racial justice and climate change series, 2035. We had a good turnout and a great group discussion with our Executive Director Dana Amihere, Projects Editor Shady Grove Oliver and our panelists, Markos Major of Climate Action Now! and UCLA Assistant Professor Regan Patterson.
Our intrepid panelists (left to right): Markos, Regan, Dana and Shady Grove. (Credit: Lisa Mastromico)
Special thanks to AfroLA staffers Ural Garrett and Katie Licari who helped work the event (plus our executive director’s husband who lent a hand, too). Go team!
We have some great original content to share this week. Our featured story this week is a nod to Muslim American Heritage Month. Black Muslims represent one-third of the American Muslim community, and 15% of mosque attendees in Southern California.
by Amani Hamed
A group of men of mixed ages sit on the plush carpeting in the musalla of the Al-Shareef Mosque during Eid, the end of Ramadan, on April 21, 2023. (Richard Grant/AfroLA)
Even in a racially diverse city like Los Angeles and within a global religion like Islam, racism persists for L.A.’s Black Muslims.
As the number of Muslims in L.A. grew, a divide in mosques along racial and ethnic lines became apparent. Black Muslims and Arab and Southeast Asian Muslims didn’t gather in the same houses of worship.
Many masajid (plural of masjid [MAAS-juhd] which is Arabic for a Muslim house of worship) started as the result of one ethnic group or another seeking to create a space where they could feel comfortable. As a result, masajid functioned more like community centers that revolve around a shared culture, rather than houses of worship united in religious practice. Black Muslims, like Masjid Al-Shareef’s Imam Abu Ishaq, said they’ve been shunned or ostracized by Muslims of different races and ethnicities within their mosques. And, racist policies like redlining only reinforced divisions within the Muslim community.
How has the Black Lives Matter movement influenced the trajectory of the Muslim community in its goal to diversify masajid?
Margari Hill, co-founder and director of the Muslim Anti-Racist Collective, said the battle against racism within the Muslim community will only truly begin when Muslims of many races and ethnicities realize that they are not fighting amongst one another for resources, but against systemic white supremacy for their very lives.
After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, Imam Abdul Hafiz of Masjid Al-Shareef said that he saw a shift in the Muslim community and broader Muslim engagement with social justice in the face of racism. “I saw a massive change among Muslims after the Floyd situation in Minnesota,” he said. “There has been a lot of dialogue.”
How does Islam address injustices within the faith?
Noah Seifullah may have said it best: “You know, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said say Salaams (gesture of greeting or respect) to people you know, and say Salaams to people that you don’t know.” Seifullah has been attending Long Beach Islamic Center for 10 years.
In the Quran, there is a section that denounces those who pray but refuse to aid in the struggles of their fellow human beings as hypocrites. Seifullah said that rather than allowing influences like media and social media to set the agenda and inform our opinions on Black people in America, Muslims must return to the example of Prophet Muhammad’s anti-racist teachings.
Imam Abdul Hafiz and Hill agree that while combating white supremacy is complicated and multifaceted, there are simple solutions every Muslim can apply in daily life to practice anti-racism and make every Muslim worship space accessible and welcoming.
How is Masjid Al-Shareef, one of the oldest Black mosques in the L.A. area, trying to bring people together?
Imrahim Dyfan, who is on the board of Masjid Al-Shareef, said he aims for the mosque to be diverse, especially in contrast to the other Southern California masajid he’s seen before. He’s done this through conscious efforts to encourage communication and uplifting the mission of Masjid Al-Shareef—to not only to create a diverse and welcoming masjid for those who will experience it once or a few times, but to create a masjid where people stay and help it grow to better serve the community.
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FROM OUR PARTNERS
As you know, sometimes we republish content from other mission-aligned news outlets to supplement our own coverage to keep you up to date on the important news regarding L.A.'s Black community and communities of color.
In addition to Capital & Main and Mother Jones, we’re now also sharing stories from Grist, an environmental news nonprofit.
Don’t forget to check out "AfroLA's Take," where we explain why we chose to share that particular story with our audience. This week, we thought these articles deserved a read:
Capital & Main
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