As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we all mourn the loss and pain of that day and its aftermath. As philanthropies and philanthropic serving organizations who support Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA)* communities deeply impacted by the response of the United States to 9/11, we want to reaffirm our commitment. They have been on the front lines of creating a just, multiracial democracy in the United States.**
We ask funders to join in our commitment to supporting BAMEMSA communities during this important year and beyond. We rarely hear about the violence, harassment, and discrimination unleashed on BAMEMSA communities in the aftermath of 9/11. The criminalization and dehumanization of these communities is often justified under the guise of national security, but today is better understood within the context of the United States’ history of white supremacy, systemic racism, and gendered violence. BAMEMSA communities are growing quickly but are still underinvested in and excluded from broader conversations and philanthropic opportunities. They also face the effects of a tidal wave of funding intended to demonize and criminalize them. We deeply appreciate that they are critical to building broad, diverse, and enduring movements for racial and social justice. It is both a moral and strategic imperative to be in solidarity with them.
Over the past two decades, our foundations have supported BAMEMSA leaders, organizations, and networks who have made a significant impact in Congress and state legislatures, and in state and federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States. They have also served on the frontlines of voting rights and civic participation efforts, and in raising public awareness, from the grassroots to Hollywood, all in service of an inclusive, pluralistic, just democracy. As we mark this moment and look to the future, we commit to collectively raising $50 million over the next five years to support BAMEMSA communities — and we urge other funders to join us.
*BAMEMSA is an acronym for Black, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian to describe communities we support that have been acutely impacted by post 9/11 discrimination. While Arab Middle Eastern Muslim South Asian (AMEMSA) is a common term in philanthropy, because Black communities are often excluded in both community and philanthropic spaces, we felt it was important to be explicit about our commitment to fund Black leadership.
**By 2040, Islam is projected to be the second largest religion in the United States. (Source: Pew Research)
Open Society Foundations
The RISE Together Fund, a Donor Collaborative of the Proteus Fund