Resources on Reproductive Injustice as Structural Hate Violence

SAALT launches new hate violence project

Hearing, Mapping, and Contextualizing: How South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and South West Asian (SAMSSWA) Hate Violence Survivors Perceive Healing and Justice 

Our new approach to hate vio­lence, launched in 2022, is to enable the par­tic­i­pa­tion and lead­er­ship of hate vio­lence sur­vivors by think­ing out­side con­ven­tion­al par­a­digms of heal­ing and jus­tice, often tied to pol­i­cy and law enforce­ment. Instead, we will offer trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice (TJ) as a modal­i­ty of healing.

We will select 15 sur­vivors affect­ed by inter­per­son­al and struc­tur­al hate crimes—including but not lim­it­ed to ones dri­ven by racism, Islam­o­pho­bia, casteism, col­orism, gen­der, sex­u­al­i­ty, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, phys­i­cal and men­tal abil­i­ty, and a his­to­ry of carcerality—both at the hands of unknown attack­ers (e.g., gen­dered Islam­o­pho­bia, harass­ment and vio­lence in pub­lic spaces, van­dal­ism and prop­er­ty destruc­tion, and dox­ing and oth­er forms of dig­i­tal vio­lence) and at the hands of known attack­ers (e.g., gen­der-based and domes­tic vio­lence, child abuse, and insti­tu­tion­al dis­crim­i­na­tion in work­places, health and edu­ca­tion settings).

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SAALT launches new hate violence project

Hearing, Mapping, and Contextualizing: How South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and South West Asian (SAMSSWA) Hate Violence Survivors Perceive Healing and Justice

Why a new approach to addressing hate violence?

Since our for­ma­tion in 2001, SAALT has his­tor­i­cal­ly approached our work around end­ing hate vio­lence as a pol­i­cy- and doc­u­men­ta­tion-dri­ven insti­tu­tion, mean­ing that our efforts have been focused on col­lect­ing data on hate vio­lence impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ty and advo­cat­ing for fed­er­al hate crime leg­is­la­tion to rec­og­nize and pros­e­cute per­pe­tra­tors of indi­vid­ual inci­dents. After two decades we face the real­i­ty that hate vio­lence against com­mu­ni­ties of col­or has not decreased. And, that is because the root caus­es of this vio­lence are tied to the very poli­cies of the gov­ern­ment from which we kept seek­ing recourse. As a result, we find it urgent and imper­a­tive to engage in a more direct, sur­vivor-cen­tered way that is not just short-term reform, but heal­ing and trans­for­ma­tive over the long-term. 

We are liv­ing in a water­shed moment, with great poten­tial for both hope and harm. Hate vio­lence has surged in America—from police bru­tal­i­ty against Black Amer­i­cans to the attacks tar­get­ing East Asian Amer­i­cans and those racial­ized as East Asian. Fight­ing hate vio­lence is vital—now more than ever—and the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty must build coali­tions with oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of color. 

Our new approach to hate vio­lence, launched in 2022, is to enable the par­tic­i­pa­tion and lead­er­ship of hate vio­lence sur­vivors by think­ing out­side con­ven­tion­al par­a­digms of heal­ing and jus­tice, often tied to pol­i­cy and law enforce­ment. Instead, we will offer trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice (TJ) as a modal­i­ty of heal­ing. We must be com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing and uplift­ing the inter­re­lat­ed prax­es of abo­li­tion and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice in Black and Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties as well as the lead­er­ship of BIPOC folks, many of whom iden­ti­fy as LGBTQI+, in shap­ing abo­li­tion and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice over the cen­turies, includ­ing those at Project NIA, INCITE!, Bay Area Trans­for­ma­tive Jus­tice Col­lec­tive, Gen­er­a­tionFIVE, Cre­ative Inter­ven­tions, Inter­rupt­ing Crim­i­nal­iza­tion, and Sur­vived & Punished. 

Such prax­es and lead­er­ship arise from America’s very found­ing being premised upon—and defined by—hate vio­lence. The cre­ation and per­pet­u­a­tion of Amer­i­can sys­tems and insti­tu­tions were pred­i­cat­ed both on the dis­place­ment and geno­cide of Indige­nous peo­ple and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Such sys­temic vio­lence root­ed in hatred thus formed the basis and roots of carcer­al ide­ol­o­gy, with racist xeno­pho­bia serv­ing as the pri­ma­ry sen­ti­ment. Trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice, with roots in end­ing child sex­u­al abuse, asks, as Mia Min­gus writes: “What kinds of com­mu­ni­ty infra­struc­ture can we cre­ate to sup­port more safe­ty, trans­paren­cy, sus­tain­abil­i­ty, care and con­nec­tion?” and “What do sur­vivors need?” We aspire to dis­cuss trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice with sur­vivors and then go to the next lev­el by active­ly visu­al­iz­ing a TJ-led com­mu­ni­ty, with the vir­tu­al hang­outs over food, work­shops, inter­views, and an in-per­son heal­ing ses­sion serv­ing as safe and pow­er­ful alter­na­tive out­lets of heal­ing, expres­sion, and needs.

Methodology

We will select 15 sur­vivors affect­ed by inter­per­son­al and struc­tur­al hate crimes—including but not lim­it­ed to ones dri­ven by racism, Islam­o­pho­bia, casteism, col­orism, gen­der, sex­u­al­i­ty, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, phys­i­cal and men­tal abil­i­ty, and a his­to­ry of carcerality—both at the hands of unknown attack­ers (e.g., gen­dered Islam­o­pho­bia, harass­ment and vio­lence in pub­lic spaces, van­dal­ism and prop­er­ty destruc­tion, and dox­ing and oth­er forms of dig­i­tal vio­lence) and at the hands of known attack­ers (e.g., gen­der-based and domes­tic vio­lence, child abuse, and insti­tu­tion­al dis­crim­i­na­tion in work­places, health and edu­ca­tion settings).

We are orga­niz­ing dis­cus­sions with our Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO) part­ners and oth­er South Asian orga­ni­za­tions and indi­vid­u­als who direct­ly work with sur­vivors and learn­ing from their work, ask­ing them to col­lab­o­rate on the project as work­shop facil­i­ta­tors, and iden­ti­fy­ing sur­vivors in their net­works who would be eager and inspired to par­take in this project. By con­nect­ing and engag­ing in a rec­i­p­ro­cal rela­tion­ship with these orga­ni­za­tions, we hope to build with and uni­fy the NCSO and our larg­er community—another one of our project goals, as exhib­it­ed by the work­shop facil­i­ta­tors we will invite. 

Timeline

This project will have six mov­ing parts from Sep­tem­ber 2022 to August/September/October 2023 in the fol­low­ing order: 

  • (1) an ini­tial pre-inter­view between the Heal­ing & Jus­tice Researcher and the sur­vivors, 1:1, on form­ing rela­tion­ships, likes and dis­likes, etc., to estab­lish a rela­tion­ship filled with trust, mutu­al dig­ni­ty, reci­procity, agency, and familiarity
  • (2) an online demo­graph­ic ques­tion­naire that will allow our researcher to cre­ate small groups dur­ing the in-per­son heal­ing ses­sion based on answer and iden­ti­ty align­ment and to dis­ag­gre­gate the data
  • (3) six vir­tu­al hang­outs for the 15 sur­vivors to bond over food, to pre­emp­tive­ly set up the sur­vivor net­work that will sus­tain this project. The last vir­tu­al hang­out in August/September/October 2023 will serve as a reflec­tion ses­sion on the project and its process. 
  • (4) back-and-forth between 13 work­shops and (5) 10 1:1 semi-struc­tured inter­views with our researcher. These work­shops, which will also help build coali­tions by includ­ing speak­ers from with­in and beyond the NCSO (e.g., Sikh Coali­tion, Jen­ny Bhatt, Sur­vived & Pun­ished), will pro­vide the back­ground infor­ma­tion nec­es­sary to devel­op­ing sur­vivors’ informed per­spec­tives on hate crime leg­is­la­tion, restora­tive and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice, police reform, etc. 
    • Two of these workshops—one, on what is heal­ing and two, on what is justice—will be survivor-led. 
    • Detailed, safe, and inno­v­a­tive inter­views will help iden­ti­fy per­spec­tives on the police, hate crime leg­is­la­tion, and alter­na­tives to the police such as trans­for­ma­tive and heal­ing jus­tice. They will explore access to heal­ing path­ways, such as pos­i­tive and mal­adap­tive cop­ing skills, com­mu­ni­ty sup­port, men­tal and phys­i­cal health ser­vices. Sur­vivors will offer their per­spec­tives on jus­tice, such as police involve­ment in their cas­es, access to resti­tu­tion struc­tures such as restora­tive jus­tice cir­cles and vic­tim-com­pen­sa­tion funds, and def­i­n­i­tions of fair­ness, safe­ty, and account­abil­i­ty. They will express their thoughts and needs on relat­ed issues such as gun con­trol, edu­ca­tion­al reform, food jus­tice, and eco­nom­ic security. 
    • Our Heal­ing and Jus­tice Researcher wrote the sur­vey and inter­view ques­tion­naires and con­sult­ed 50 schol­ars, orga­ni­za­tions, and heal­ing prac­ti­tion­ers (e.g., Restora­tive Jus­tice for Oak­land Youth, South Asian Sex­u­al and Men­tal Health Alliance, and Puni Kalra, founder of the Sikh Heal­ing Col­lec­tive fol­low­ing the Oak Creek shoot­ing) both inside and beyond the NCSO in the process for feed­back. An excerpt of the ques­tion­naires can be found here.
  • (6) We will hold an in-per­son week­end ses­sion in July 2023 to max­i­mize heal­ing. Sur­vivors will spend the first day engag­ing in activ­i­ties offered by our Somat­ics Con­sul­tant; cre­ate some­thing of their choice (e.g., a meal, song, dance, gar­den, cloth­ing); and close the day with activ­i­ties offered by our Heal­ing Jus­tice Con­sul­tant. The sec­ond day, sur­vivors will engage in activ­i­ties offered by our Somat­ics Con­sul­tant and a sto­ry­telling cir­cle facil­i­tat­ed by our Restora­tive Jus­tice Facil­i­ta­tor as well as map out a future world (What does it con­sist of? What makes it safe, fair, and just?) with the help of our Trans­for­ma­tive Jus­tice Facilitator.

Why now? 

We will har­ness the pow­er of speak­ing and lis­ten­ing. Greater infor­ma­tion, freer par­tic­i­pa­tion and informed analy­sis, par­tic­u­lar­ly in rela­tion to anti-Black racism in the US, will help us devel­op a shared lan­guage for change togeth­er with our NCSO and beyond. We will present our find­ings from the sur­veys and inter­views, and make rec­om­men­da­tions for com­mu­ni­ty-based advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions, men­tal health and legal pro­fes­sion­als, TJ prac­ti­tion­ers, and gov­ern­ment offi­cials through a pub­lic, inter­ac­tive web­site with mul­ti­ple purposes—a toolk­it, mem­oir, report, doc­u­ment, and historiography. 

We will also be offer­ing the fol­low­ing ser­vices and com­pen­sa­tions: (1) an infor­ma­tion and informed con­sent form empha­siz­ing con­sent (i.e., vol­un­tary and selec­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion), con­fi­den­tial­i­ty, anonymi­ty, and full veto pow­er over writ­ten con­tent; (2) $2,500 com­pen­sa­tion to each sur­vivor as an expres­sion of our grat­i­tude for their time, com­mit­ment, and fullest selves; (3) indi­vid­ual and group coach­ing ses­sions with a Licensed Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­o­gist; (4) local­ized resource sheets (e.g., con­tacts to faith-based lead­ers); (5) somat­ic and heal­ing jus­tice activ­i­ties; (6) trans­la­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion sup­port; (7) a reflec­tion cir­cle and sur­vey on the process at the last vir­tu­al hang­out; and (8) a sur­vivor-led net­work out­liv­ing and out­last­ing the project. 

This project has numer­ous impli­ca­tions. Fol­low­ing the schol­ar­ly inter­est in and debate over the effi­ca­cy of Brazil and India’s all-women police sta­tions in address­ing gen­der-based vio­lence and lis­ten­ing to sur­vivors, our insights might well be extrap­o­lat­ed to the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tems of oth­er nations and inspire glob­al models. 

Hate vio­lence takes too many lives every day. We rec­og­nize the urgency of a response, and this project, with its demo­c­ra­t­ic ways of sto­ry­telling cen­tered on a just tran­si­tion, or “a vision-led, uni­fy­ing and place-based set of prin­ci­ples, process­es, and prac­tices that build eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal pow­er to shift from an extrac­tive econ­o­my to a regen­er­a­tive economy”—is our contribution. 

This project will con­tribute to the trans­for­ma­tion of jus­tice for indi­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties. It will expand the notion of jus­tice from sim­ply one sur­vivor going to the gov­ern­ment for help, to one where an entire soci­ety is deeply aware of struc­tur­al vio­lence and injus­tice, and open to form­ing new and more equi­table method­olo­gies and institutions. 

This mul­ti­lay­ered project will involve a rec­i­p­ro­cal rela­tion­ship with par­tic­i­pants, in which we will uncov­er our deep­est, truest selves. We will share our stories—the way in which we are sto­ried, unsto­ried and resto­ried. We will dream of rad­i­cal­ly new worlds. And through this indi­vid­ual and col­lec­tive work, we will devel­op a roadmap for rad­i­cal heal­ing and justice.

Ways to get involved

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Executive Summary: “Together We Rise” Inaugural Report from South Asian SOAR

An inau­gur­al report by South Asian SOAR, launch­ing in July 2022.

A note from our leadership

SOAR is an organization that is co-created by and for survivors and community leaders — and this report is a reflec­tion of that phi­los­o­phy. We cre­at­ed Togeth­er We Rise with our mem­ber­ship of 30+ front­line orga­ni­za­tions to ampli­fy their voic­e­sand ultimately generate increased funding, improve research & data collection, and drive policy changes that accurately grasp and meet survivors’ needs.

“Survivors are being failed by the system…We don’t have enough resources, or it’s so obsolete that what is there is not working anymore. That’s the challenge that we are facing here.”

— Anti-Vio­lence Pro­gram Advocate

Collective Statement from South Asian Leaders on Abortion & Reproductive Justice

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — 24 May 2022

The recently leaked draft majority opinion from SCOTUS threatens an alarming reversal of federal protections for abortion rights. Amidst grief and rage, we know — as South Asian survivors, immigrants, community-based organizations, and movement leaders — that we must act swiftly and unitedly to protest and prevent this from passing.

Build­ing upon decades-long attacks on repro­duc­tive jus­tice, the pend­ing deci­sion to over­turn Roe v Wade could gut abor­tion rights in near­ly half of the Unit­ed States. Unde­ni­ably, this would have a dev­as­tat­ing impact on South Asian fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties — espe­cial­ly on sur­vivors, immi­grants, queer and trans peo­ple, and work­ing class people.

“Abortion restrictions in this country have always targeted, and fall hardest on, people of color and low-income people. They are meant to keep people like us powerless and in our place. Abortion bans are racial violence. They are gender-based violence. Abortion bans are class warfare.” - Shiv­ana Jorawar, Esq., Co-Direc­tor, Jaha­jee Sisters

In the face of these unprece­dent­ed restric­tions, it is imper­a­tive that we push for bold solu­tions that ensure afford­able and acces­si­ble abor­tions for every­one. With­out the right to abor­tion, the health and well-being of preg­nant peo­ple, entire fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, and future gen­er­a­tions are at risk.

In con­trast to mod­el minor­i­ty stereo­types, South Asians face per­va­sive sys­temic bar­ri­ers includ­ing eco­nom­ic, legal, lan­guage, and cul­tur­al hur­dles to access­ing repro­duc­tive health­care. Though there is a dearth of data on abor­tion rates among South Asians, a recent study found that Indi­an Amer­i­can women in New York City have the high­est rate of abor­tion amongst Asian Americans.

“South Asians are especially vulnerable - without access to resources in the multitudes of languages we speak, and the shame and stigma that comes with accessing reproductive health care, we are marginalized further without policies that support people’s whole lives, including better access to hospitals and clinics, healthcare provided by people our communities trust, insurance that actually covers our real needs, and policies that eliminate barriers to care because of racism and inequities.” - Sharmin Hos­sain, Cam­paign Direc­tor, Lib­er­ate Abortion

In 2012, Savi­ta Halap­panavar, a South Asian den­tist liv­ing in Ire­land, trag­i­cal­ly died after being denied a time­ly abor­tion. In 2014, Purvi Patel, a South Asian woman from Indi­ana, was one of only two women to be pros­e­cut­ed under the statewide feti­cide bill. Her case demon­strates the vio­lent hypocrisy of the U.S. gov­ern­ment, which has a well doc­u­ment­ed his­to­ry of forced ster­il­iza­tions of women of col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly Black women, while at the same time crim­i­nal­iz­ing abor­tion, as demon­strat­ed through racist sex-selec­tive abor­tion bans. If those in pow­er were to pri­or­i­tize well-being, they would address the short­age of baby for­mu­la, lack of paid fam­i­ly leave, denial of access to health­care, and the short­age of afford­able and free child­care in this country.

“This moment is painstakingly triggering for survivors who are all too familiar with stolen consent and the violation of bodily autonomy. The fight for reproductive justice and survivor justice are intricately interconnected as both are working to advance a world abundant with care, resources, and choices.” - Denise Beek, Chief Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer, me too. International

For South Asian sur­vivors who live at the inter­sec­tion of mul­ti­ple oppres­sions, the con­se­quences will be even more grave. Peo­ple in abu­sive rela­tion­ships are far more vul­ner­a­ble to sex­u­al assault, birth con­trol sab­o­tage, repro­duc­tive coer­cion or con­trol, and mis­in­for­ma­tion about their repro­duc­tive rights, and homi­cide, fre­quent­ly by a part­ner, is the lead­ing cause of mater­nal death dur­ing preg­nan­cy and the post­par­tum period.

"As organizations in the southern states, we face some of the toughest abortion restriction policies. This rollback of rights is extremely concerning because it threatens the livelihoods for survivors and people who already have limited access to resources, transportation, and healthcare." - Aparna Bhat­tacharyya, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Rak­sha and SOAR Board Member

With­in South Asian com­mu­ni­ties, the pre­vail­ing stig­ma, shame, and silence that hin­der dis­cus­sions of sex­u­al and repro­duc­tive health are iso­lat­ing and dan­ger­ous. Unless we nor­mal­ize our choic­es and needs, we are jeop­ar­diz­ing the phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al health and safe­ty of South Asians.

As we mobi­lize in the com­ing weeks and months, we look to the South Asian, Indo-Caribbean, Black, Brown, Lat­inx, Indige­nous, and Asian lead­ers at the fore­front of the repro­duc­tive jus­tice move­ment. Across the South Asian & Indo-Caribbean dias­po­ra, HEART to Grow is sus­tain­ing a repro­duc­tive jus­tice fund for Mus­lims, Jaha­jee Sis­ters is lead­ing actions and host­ing con­ver­sa­tions on abor­tion access, and Sakhi for South Asian Women and oth­er gen­der-based vio­lence orga­ni­za­tions are increas­ing access to con­tra­cep­tion for survivors.

“Make no mistake -- banning abortion does not end the need for abortion care. Abortion is normal, common and one of the safest medical procedures. Banning abortion will not only have devastating effects on women, pregnant people and their whole families but it will have the greatest impact on low-income people of color. As a movement, we are prepared for what's to come and I'm proud to say that we are stronger than ever. We won't give up.” - Dr. Meera Shah, Chief Med­ical Offi­cer of Planned Par­ent­hood Hud­son Pecon­ic, Med­ical Direc­tor of Whole Women’s Health Alliance of South Bend, Indi­ana, and Sakhi Board Member

This is not only a fight to save Roe v. Wade, but also a pivotal moment to reimagine the future of reproductive justice and freedom for all. We must act to ensure that abortion is legal, accessible, affordable, and supported for everyone regardless of income, race, gender, sexuality, caste, religion, and more.

The solidarity and voices of South Asians are needed, now more than ever, to take action, speak out, donate, and to protect choice and freedom for ourselves and the generations to come.

Organizational & Individual Signatories

  • AFSSA (Texas)
  • Ashiyanaa (Mary­land)
  • Daya (Texas)
  • Jahajee Sisters (New York)
  • Raksha Inc. (Geor­gia)
  • Sakhi for South Asian Women (New York)
  • Sanctuary for Families (New York)
  • SEWA-AIFW (Min­neso­ta)
  • South Asian SOAR (Nation­al)
  • Manavi (New Jersey)

Statement on House Judiciary Hearing on Discrimination and Civil Rights of Muslim Arab and South Asian Communities

Feb­ru­ary 25, 2022

Dear Chair­man Nadler and Rank­ing Mem­ber Jordan,

As orga­ni­za­tions that work with­in Mus­lim, Arab and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties at the local and nation­al lev­el, we are pleased to see the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee hold­ing an impor­tant March 1st Hear­ing on Dis­crim­i­na­tion and Civ­il Rights of Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian com­mu­ni­ties. We rec­og­nize the tremen­dous work orga­ni­za­tions have done to advo­cate for con­gres­sion­al hear­ings that cen­ter the ero­sion of civ­il lib­er­ties for our communities.

How­ev­er, as orga­ni­za­tions who are work­ing with impact­ed com­mu­ni­ties, we are con­cerned about the fram­ing of the hear­ing. We write to offer rec­om­men­da­tions for future hear­ings per­tain­ing to our com­mu­ni­ties. Such hear­ings are part of the offi­cial his­tor­i­cal record and often end up paint­ing a nar­ra­tive and push­ing pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions that fail to clear­ly name state vio­lence, struc­tur­al Islam­o­pho­bia, and the War on Ter­ror poli­cies as the dri­vers of indi­vid­ual acts of inter­per­son­al vio­lence. South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) issued reports in 2017 and 2018 doc­u­ment­ing the direct cor­re­la­tion between polit­i­cal rhetoric, fed­er­al poli­cies, and the increase in inci­dents of hate vio­lence, which con­tin­ues today.

Increas­ing­ly, we have found that the lim­it­ed frame­work of civ­il rights and civ­il lib­er­ties that often focus­es exclu­sive­ly on secu­ri­ty and dis­crim­i­na­tion does not ade­quate­ly cap­ture the broad impacts of sys­temic vio­lence on our com­mu­ni­ties, which include eco­nom­ic, health, hous­ing, and edu­ca­tion, among oth­er social deter­mi­nants. This lim­i­ta­tion has con­tin­ued to fail in com­pre­hen­sive­ly and sub­stan­tive­ly address­ing the scope and mag­ni­tude of the vio­lence our com­mu­ni­ties have expe­ri­enced in the twen­ty years after 9/11.

We reit­er­ate the requests in our state­ment for the record to the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee in response to your April, 2019 Hear­ing on Hate Crimes and White Nation­al­ism to once again take the fol­low­ing rec­om­men­da­tions in plan­ning hearings:

  • Broad­en the frame of “civ­il rights and lib­er­ties” to bet­ter under­stand how state vio­lence, struc­tur­al Islam­o­pho­bia, and the War on Ter­ror poli­cies are the dri­vers of indi­vid­ual acts of inter­per­son­al violence.
  • Engage more direct­ly and much fur­ther in advance with com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions, grass­roots and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions at the local lev­el in devel­op­ing the frame­work for a hear­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing witnesses.
  • Hold mul­ti­ple pan­els that cen­ter sur­vivors, impact­ed com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, and com­mu­ni­ty-based organizations.
  • Ensure such hear­ings are not gov­ern­ment plat­forms for Islam­o­phobes, big­ots, and racists to pro­mote their hate­ful agen­das as if they are a legit­i­mate jux­ta­po­si­tion to com­mu­ni­ty-based testimony.
  • Offer more lead time for orga­ni­za­tions to sub­mit state­ments for the record.
  • Cre­ate space to hear direct­ly from one group rather than group­ing Mus­lim, Arab, and South Asian iden­ti­ties togeth­er. Often in such group­ings, impor­tant racial, gen­der, eth­nic, class, caste, and reli­gious iden­ti­ties are erased.
  • Invite grass­roots and com­mu­ni­ty-based groups to speak who hold an abo­li­tion­ist and trans­for­ma­tive jus­tice frame­work to address state, insti­tu­tion­al, and inter­per­son­al forms of vio­lence. We want to ampli­fy the Mus­lim Abo­li­tion­ist Futures grass­roots pol­i­cy agen­da call­ing for abol­ish­ing the War on Ter­ror and build­ing com­mu­ni­ties of care and hope such hear­ings mov­ing for­ward include pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions that tie togeth­er the var­i­ous, inter­sect­ing, and com­plex root caus­es of vio­lence rather than priv­i­leg­ing nar­row, reformist pol­i­cy agendas.

As groups on the front­lines of defend­ing our com­mu­ni­ties tar­get­ed by puni­tive gov­ern­ment poli­cies, our orga­ni­za­tions hope there is a rad­i­cal shift in how such hear­ings are car­ried out. Sur­vivors of state vio­lence, hate vio­lence, and big­otry deserve hon­est inquiries and true jus­tice from their elect­ed offi­cials. Con­gress must hold sub­se­quent hear­ings that com­pre­hen­sive­ly and sub­stan­tive­ly con­front and address these issues.

Signed,
Jus­tice For Mus­lims Col­lec­tive
South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT)
Mus­lim Abo­li­tion­ist Futures Network

View as a PDF here.

Letters to Congress from Community Members

From Atif Akhter

The tragedy of 9/11 and the fol­low­ing War on Ter­ror has deeply affect­ed South Asian, Arab, and Mus­lim Com­mu­ni­ties across the globe. Recent­ly, through explor­ing the work done by orga­ni­za­tions such as the Jus­tice for Mus­lims Col­lec­tive (JMC) as well as South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), I can bet­ter vocal­ize the pain I have felt as a mem­ber of both of these com­mu­ni­ties. Their work encour­ages us, as young peo­ple who do not remem­ber a world before Mus­lims were con­sid­ered a per­ma­nent ene­my. State-spon­sored vio­lence has tak­en a toll on my peo­ple as we have been bru­tal­ized and vil­lainized over the course of 20 years due to poli­cies which sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly and explic­it­ly tar­get us. These decades have not slowed the onslaught of sur­veil­lance that is almost tan­gi­ble and this con­cur­rent demand that we prove that we are patri­ot­ic, even if we were born here and after the attack on the Twin Tow­ers. We desire not only safe spaces and heal­ing, but also to see such dis­crim­i­na­to­ry and racist poli­cies repealed and con­demned.

Islam­o­pho­bia is deeply ingrained into our cul­ture now. Even today on the streets of the most diverse city in the world, women who wear the hijab fear retal­i­a­tion from Islam­o­phobes. But beyond this vil­fi­ca­tion of our cus­toms and tra­di­tions has been an effort to spy on our fam­i­lies in an effort to val­i­date law enforce­ments’ pre-exist­ing igno­rant assump­tions. In the years imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing 9/11, with­out cause, author­i­ties came fre­quent­ly to our mosques and New York City uni­ver­si­ties’ Mus­lim Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tions. We real­ized intu­itive­ly that ally­ship could often be super­fi­cial, or more dan­ger­ous­ly, covert mon­i­tor­ing.

As a South Asian and Mus­lim stu­dent at Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty, it also became quick­ly clear that if there was any pos­i­tive out­come from these years of cen­sure, it has been that our sense of com­mu­ni­ty had expand­ed to oth­ers who are not Mus­lim or not South Asian, but have shared expe­ri­ences because of how Islam­o­pho­bia often affects peo­ple because of how they are per­ceived. In many ways, there is new sol­i­dar­i­ty amongst Sikh, Hin­du, and Jain youth as well as with Black and Arab Mus­lims.

We have lost too many peo­ple to sense­less attacks, endured too much scruti­ny and harass­ment, and had to tell our par­ents that in spite of their Amer­i­can Dreams, we still face chal­lenges that they nev­er could have imag­ined would affect us still. Not a sin­gle suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tion should have to live under the War on Terror.

From Has­san Javed

I am a Mus­lim Pak­istani-Amer­i­can. To present myself in this iden­ti­ty is a tes­ta­ment to the strength I’ve build over the years. Ever since I was a child, my peers tried to teach me the hard way that this soci­ety war­rants your Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty to be a com­plete recluse from your iden­ti­ties. Mus­lim-Amer­i­can, Pak­istani-Amer­i­can, or what­ev­er else was on the left side of your hyphen­at­ed iden­ti­ty, my peers told me that it was only the Amer­i­can that mat­tered and was wor­thy of their respect. I grew up hear­ing Amer­i­ca was a melt­ing pot — but what good was this melt­ing pot if a few ingre­di­ents dom­i­nat­ed all oth­ers?

Per­haps, it wasn’t even just the “Amer­i­can” that was wor­thy of their respect — it was the only iden­ti­ty safe from their hatred. Every oth­er iden­ti­ty was cause for my teacher to ask me incon­sid­er­ate ques­tions about my identities…my par­ents’ work­place to get its win­dows smashed in an act the police was adamant not to call a hate crime…the unhinged man with a knife on the sub­way to loop around me yelling slurs. Amer­i­ca had accept­ed that my oth­er iden­ti­ties could triv­i­al­ize my sur­vival. I had accept­ed that it could not have been any oth­er way.

And, who was pulling the strings if none oth­er than the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ments, both at the fed­er­al and state lev­els. From just 2010–2016, 194 anti-sharia bills were intro­duced in leg­is­la­tion, and they are a tes­ta­ment to how the gov­ern­ment views and por­trays Islam. As Pro­fes­sor Tisa Wenger of Yale Uni­ver­si­ty has said best, these leg­is­la­tions “rep­re­sent a demo­niza­tion of Islam” and invent “a spec­trum of dam­age that doesn’t actu­al­ly exist.” And this faux “spec­trum of dam­age” is all the gov­ern­ment needs to make Islam­o­pho­bic main­stream.

What my peers said to me at school and what I faced out­side of my home was just a micro­cosm of the racial pro­fil­ing the gov­ern­ment made com­mon­place. My peo­ple were sub­ject to sur­veil­lance, deten­tion, and depor­ta­tion sole­ly on the basis of their reli­gious iden­ti­ty. The Mus­lim Stu­dents Asso­ci­a­tion I am involved in here at Colum­bia was sur­veilled exten­sive­ly; what was it about us pray­ing and open­ing our fasts togeth­er that threat­ened Amer­i­ca… that caused Amer­i­ca to look at us under a micro­scope? How do I, along with every Mus­lim-Amer­i­can youth, reel from our gov­ern­ment treat­ing us as if we’re bac­te­ria in their pond­wa­ter?

You stereo­typed me. Your media mis­portrayed me. You taught against me in your schools. You jailed me over unjus­ti­fied sus­pi­cion. You treat­ed me as a less­er. So, the teenage me replied with faux patri­o­tism. If what it took for you to stop treat­ing me like an out­sider was to be patri­ot­ic, or rather, accept your Amer­i­can igno­rance and hatred with­out a word,teenage me did it. But I am no longer my teenage self. I am no longer afraid of your hatred. I am no longer faux patri­ot­ic.

If all you ever want­ed was to make me feel like an out­sider, then let me reclaim being an Amer­i­can. Let me take pride in being Mus­lim-Amer­i­can. Let me take pride in being Pak­istani-Amer­i­can. Let me col­or Amer­i­ca with the iden­ti­ties you can’t stand the exis­tence of. I am reflec­tive of the pow­er in my com­mu­ni­ties. I am reflec­tive of the strength of my peo­ple. Use sur­veil­lance, deten­tion, or what­ev­er you can to make us feel like we do not belong, we will orga­nize and rise against your de fac­to and de jure injus­tice. My ances­tors over­came your impe­ri­al­ism and colo­nial­ism; now, their child will over­come your Islam­o­pho­bia and racism.

SAALT Demands An Action Plan That Protects All Afghans

This week’s news revolves around two truths: Our Afghan com­mu­ni­ties, both here in the U.S. and in Afghanistan, are in dire need of imme­di­ate and sus­tained sup­port that ensures their and their loved ones’ safe­ty in a time of cri­sis – and the Biden administration’s cur­rent rushed with­draw­al plan from Kab­ul has com­pro­mised this. 

As fam­i­lies and indi­vid­u­als leave Afghanistan, many are land­ing in our inhu­mane deten­tion cen­ters along­side the grow­ing num­ber of Hait­ian refugees, and addi­tion­al­ly fac­ing the numer­ous and entrenched injus­tices of this cru­el system. 

What is most unfor­tu­nate is that our Afghan sib­lings could have expe­ri­enced far less harm, had the evac­u­a­tion process begun ear­li­er – whether it was on May 6, when refugee rights advo­ca­cy groups (includ­ing Human Rights First, the Inter­na­tion­al Refugee Assis­tance Project, No One Left Behind, and the Luther­an Immi­gra­tion and Refugee Ser­vice) met with White House offi­cials and called for a mass evac­u­a­tion plan that did not rely on a severe­ly back­logged SIV pro­gram, or lat­er on June 24th, when Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Seth Moul­ton unveiled a detailed evac­u­a­tion plan to ensure safe­ty for over 17,000 Afghans to Guam. 

As a coun­try with the resources to sup­port evac­u­a­tion and evac­uees, we can and must move now to mit­i­gate harm. Most impor­tant­ly, this is com­pound­ed by the truth that our inter­ven­tion and con­tin­ued pres­ence in Afghanistan, dri­ven fore­most by the desire to uphold U.S. occu­pa­tion, has desta­bi­lized the coun­try and direct­ly put Afghans at fur­ther risk. As such, we have the respon­si­bil­i­ty to change our course of action. 

If we want to ensure the end of a long, violent, and terrible war, we must move with an unwavering commitment to human rights. We at SAALT, following the leadership of Afghan community members and allies in the Evacuate Our Allies coalition, are calling on President Biden to prioritize safe for all Afghans by:

  • Keeping the Kabul airport open for as long as necessary, and allowing military, charter, and commercial airflight.
  • Working with the Department of Defense and the State Department to ensure safe passage for Afghans to and through the airport, and onto flights.
  • Putting out a call for individuals certified for consular services, while continuing consular processing.
  • Providing necessary information to evacuees in as many culturally-relevant languages as possible, including Dari, Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic.
  • Centering the evacuation of vulnerable populations, including refugees, SIV applicants and their families, immigrant visa applicants and their family members (beyond spouses and minor children), P2 referrals, Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs), women’s rights activists and other human rights defenders, religious minorities, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other marginalized groups.
  • Expedite the processing of visas for all of the populations listed above and waive all associated fees.
  • Ensure safe arrival of Afghans in the U.S. by facilitating humanitarian parole using DHS parole authority – whether at ports-of-entry or in advance.

As we approach the 20th anniver­sary of 9/11, the news may right­ful­ly focus on the U.S.’s impe­r­i­al his­to­ry and haste of this war, but what Pres­i­dent Biden does today and tomor­row can ensure that next week’s news also speaks to our nation’s will­ing­ness to rec­og­nize the con­se­quences of this “War on Ter­ror” and the cost that our South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties have paid as a result both here and abroad, and active­ly work to dis­man­tle the racism and mil­i­tarism baked into all sys­tems of our fed­er­al government.

#WeCanDoThis

In part­ner­ship with We Can Do This, a cam­paign run by the US Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices, SAALT is shar­ing in-lan­guage pub­lic edu­ca­tion tools, trans­lat­ed by our allies at Respond: Cri­sis Trans­la­tion, that you and your com­mu­ni­ty can use to advo­cate for #Vac­cinEquity and ensure our col­lec­tive safe­ty from the coro­n­avirus.

Want to learn more? Vis­it www.vaccines.gov.