The recent events in Minneapolis precipitated by the police killing of George Floyd, along with related acts of high profile racialized violence directed at Black civilians, though seemingly distinct from the ongoing pandemic, are intimately connected via the systemic devaluation of Black life. At the same time, a pronounced, aggressive movement pushing back against mandated public health matters such as quarantine, social distancing, and wearing masks in public by largely white, conservative-leaning, and often armed protestors draped in racist symbols further reinforces the relationship between white supremacy and the contours of the pandemic in the US. The various detrimental impacts of Covid-19–most immediately sickness and death, but also unemployment, economic precarity, and disparities in educational access along racial lines have all been brought to the fore in the last couple of months. Black Muslims in the US, by virtue of their multiply marginalized social location, have been among the most significantly impacted, and at the same time, Black Muslim activists have been busy organizing and mobilizing resources around these issues on behalf of their communities. This presentation will examine these dynamics, offering reflections the connections between the aforementioned phenomena.
Dr. Donna Auston is an anthropologist, writer, and activist whose body of work focuses primarily on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, media representation, and Islam in America. Her dissertation research explores Black Muslim activism and spiritual protest in the post-Ferguson, Black Lives Matter era. Some of her other written work includes book chapters on the historical contributions of African American Muslims in the arts, culture, and social justice movements, and the connections between Islamophobia and Black Lives Matter. She currently teaches at Rutgers University, and is a member of the recently formed Black Muslim COVID Coalition. Dr. Auston has also published works on Black Islam and U.S. Politics, as well as a number of short essays on the lived experiences of Black Muslims with anti-Black racism, state surveillance, law enforcement profiling, and Islamophobia. Her work has been covered by national news outlets, including NBC News, and The Huffington Post, and was named one of the top 100 Muslim Social Justice leaders by MPower Change in 2016.
June 30, 2020