A host of Arab and Arab-American celebrities and public figures — including Golden Globe-winner Ramy Youssef, Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, and rapper Mona Haydar — have come together under the banner of ‘Arabs for Black Lives.’ The rallying cry had risen as a show of solidarity in the wake of the tragic murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests, but has now been established as a collective by grassroots Muslim organising platform MPower Change, co-founded by activist Linda Sarsour.
The founding statement of the collective mourns Floyd’s death, along with a long list of black Americans whose lives were cut short by racialised police violence. It also emphasises the responsibility that Arab Americans have towards black communities; in many major US cities, Arab-owned stores operate in predominantly black communities, as was the case with the store where Floyd was killed.
“We must have the vital conversations within our own families and with our loved ones about things we can do to ensure we actively do anti-racism work,” reads the statement. “We continue to fight against both racism and anti-Blackness against Black Americans and Afro Arabs within our own community. It is our responsibility to confront our households, neighbourhoods, and places of worship when they perpetuate anti-Blackness as well as take necessary action to divest from the carceral system and the policing of Black people that destroys lives.”
Comedian Mo Amer, journalist Ahmed Shihab El Din, comedian Shadi Alfons, filmmaker Hisham Fageeh, actress Rosaline Elbay and most of the cast of Hulu’s ‘Ramy’ have signed the statement, along with several high-profile public figures, including congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, activist Isra Chaker, author Noura Erakat, and civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi.
You can learn more about the collective and sign the statement here.