On July 18, RTF hosted a funder strategy call, Understanding MASA Communities in a Racial Justice Frame, where we discussed how organizations and activists in the MASA field are organizing, developing partnerships, and contextualizing some of the policy changes faced by Muslims (of all races), Arabs, and South Asians in a racial justice frame, and how funders are aligning funding to MASA and Muslim communities within a racial justice portfolio. RTF Program Director Shireen Zaman facilitated, and we were joined by three panelists:
During the call, we explored how MASA communities, particularly black Muslims, have long been involved with the civil rights and black liberation movements. However, MASA communities are still often seen through a national security framework, which neglects the various ways in which racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia restrict equal rights and lead to profiling and surveillance – all issues that are addressed in the racial justice movement.
In addition to being framed as “national security threats,” MASA communities are seen as the “weak link” by those who wish to promote restrictive policies and are used to test out xenophobic and anti-immigrant policies on the local/state level. When we protect and preserve the rights of MASA communities, we are ensuring the same for everyone else.
To achieve these aims, we heard from panelists about how funders can support MASA communities within a racial justice framework. First, funders should take a look at their organization’s funding priorities – is there a reason for a lack of strategic focus in funding MASA communities? Second, funders can look at the decision-making processes within their organizations. Who is making the funding decisions within their organizations? Are the decision makers directly tied to impacted communities?
In short, as MASA activists and organizers navigate an increasingly Islamophobic, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant environment around the country, funders are tasked with reimagining and testing out rapid response and long-term, sustainable approaches to better support MASA communities. Understanding how MASA issues and racial justice issues fit together is one step in helping increase support for MASA communities in this critical time.
To learn more about how you can support MASA communities as part of the racial justice movement, please contact the RTF.