AltMuslimah’s Shazia K. Farook spoke to Magari Hill of the Muslim Anti-Racism collaborative, an organization dedicated to strengthening dialogue between people of different backgrounds, and ways to eradicate racism from within the community.
The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative was recently established. Can you explain the purpose of this group? Is it mainly an online presence?
Margari Hill : We established Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative in response to conversations on social media that began late in 2013 about the prevalence of anti-black racism amongst Muslims. Our purpose is to challenge intra-Muslim racism through educational resources and programs. Right now, we are mainly an online presence with members located all over the country collaborating through telephone conversations, video conferences, and email. At the end of this month, we will begin on the ground programming and anti-racism training with the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament in Detroit.
What is your role at MARC?
Margari Hill : I work as Programming Director in MuslimARC. I am also one of the founders, along with Executive Director Namira Islam and Communications Director Hind Makki. I work to develop online awareness campaigns and education programs. I work with a talented team of activists, scholars, and anti-racism trainers to tailor programs that specifically target the Muslim community.
How and why did you decide to come up with a PSA centered on a particular Qur’anic verse (Chapter 49: Verse 13))?
Margari Hill : The verse is: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. ” It is dear to many Muslims, including our family at MuslimARC. It is a perfect example of Islam’s egalitarian spirit, highlighting that we all came from the same family. Regardless of racial or national identity, what matters is your consciousness of God. We felt that the verse would allow Muslims of all stripes to discuss what it means to them.
Are there similar projects out there that have been geared towards other than the Muslim community?
Margari Hill : PSA contests are pretty common outside the Muslim community. But so far, we haven’t seen anything using religious scripture to speak to a religious group.
Why the video medium? Why not an essay, or even a meme?
Margari Hill : Writing isn’t for everyone and there are plenty of blogs and articles that have tackled the subject of racism. We wanted to tap into our Muslim community’s creativity and encourage a type of interactivity on our website and on social media. However, community members are welcome to submit an image if they’d like.
Will you be sharing this PSA with groups outside of the Muslim community?
Margari Hill : It will be available on our website and social media so people of all faiths can enjoy the message.
The two—race relations and gender relations—might appear to be different disciplines, but the overlap of ideas is undeniable. How do you see this project affecting gender?
Margari Hill : Although we planned it long before the recent controversies involving gender and race, like the Abu Eesa controversy, as well as the erasure of Black American Muslim women in media coverage of ##lifeofamuslimfeminist and #notyourstockmuslim, and most recently “32 Photos That Hope To Change The Way We Look At Muslim American Women,” this project is especially timely because it aims to build bridges. The principles of our organization recognize the ways in which our multiple identities intersect. At the same time, MuslimARC feels that there are worthy organizations that deal with gender and, while that is not our focus, we would love to boost their efforts. In fact, many of our core members are active participants in organizations that address gender issues. Where our interests overlap, we’d love to collaborate with them.
Margari Aziza Hill is an adjunct professor, independent researcher, and co-founder and Programming Director of Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative. She earned a master’s in Middle East and African History from Stanford University in 2006. Her current research explores transformation in Islamic learning and race and colorism in Egyptian education.
For more information on this project, visit: Muslimarc.org
Shazia K. Farook is the Social Media Coordinator at altMuslimah.