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Black Refugees Matter

The refugee crisis started before Syria’s exodus and mass displacement continues to worsen, but the Muslim community doesn’t care about Black people —Muslim or not.

A mother mourning her drowned toddler in a life boat off Lampedusa - Shot by Chris McGrath of Getty Images. 

We’ve all seen it, or at least some version of it. The doe eyed Syrian child shell shocked and covered in blood wandering dusty streets after a bombing.

Facebook profiles are dyed in waves of flame red shades telling us that Aleppo is burning. Then our Facebook feeds became hosts for Aleppo’s ashes. A collection of the desolate images.

Syria remains one of the greatest humanitarian disasters of the modern era, but the Ummah’s sympathies have not been extended with the same collective outrage for its non Arab siblings.

In a world where 65 million peoples are now displaced, more than any time in recorded history, of the top ten countries of origin, only 2 are Arab and 6 are Sub-Saharan African.

Those six nations are Somalia (#3), Sudan (#4), South Sudan (#5), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)(#6), Central African Republic (CAR)(#8), and Eritrea (#10).

The remaining 2 are Afghanistan ranking second behind Syria and Burma coming in at seventh. Iraq comes in ninth.

According to the UNCHR, the population of refugees originating from Africa totaled approximately 4.4 million as of late 2015 which is a 20% increase in comparison to the Middle-East’s 8% drop with approximately 2.7 million displaced persons. 

So where’s the cavalry of Islamic charities rushing to the aid this massive amount of vulnerable peoples? Or even the wall to wall posts about the struggles of these individuals? Let alone the people who could bring a bigger platform to this issue --granted I submitted this piece to MuslimGirl and I was assured it was great, yet it remained unpublished. 

Does the Muslim community even see Black asylum seekers as individuals worthy of assistance, let alone existence?

Short answer, no.

The Muslim community doesn’t even see established Black Muslims as individuals, but rather as tokens —should they be successful and have respectable politics.

It’s no secret that the plight of Black Muslims, let alone the resilient Black diaspora at large, is one that the Muslim community willingly benefits from, exploits and then conveniently ignores.

Alan Kurdi was not ignored, but many, many, black children his age and younger are being ignored.  

The devastation of death doesn’t dwell alone in drownings, but in deserts.

Most African refugees find themselves battling the Sahara itself to reach what they think is salvation waiting for them in Europe.

This aspect of the journey is far less reported on but incidents do make it to light.

On June 1st, the BBC reported the deaths of 44 displaced persons, who “died of thirst” saying that “it's not known how many deaths there are every year - as it's a vast, ungoverned region.”

If asylum seekers are so lucky to make it to the ports of Libya, they face another much crueler obstacle before they take their chances with the sea; the new slave trade. 

A first hand witness from Cameroon describes his account of public slave auctions to the Guardian.

“They took people and put them in the street, under a sign that said ‘for sale’,” said Shamsuddin Jibril, 27, from Cameroon, who twice saw men traded publicly in the streets of the central Libyan town of Sabha… [he continues] “They tied their hands just like in the former slave trade, and they drove them here in the back of a Toyota Hilux. There were maybe five or seven of them.”

The UN’s International Organization for Migration has verified and reported several testimonies of the slave trade in Libya where individuals are being tortured, brutalized and sold as to private citizens as sex slaves, laborers as well as being exploited for funds from their families.

So here we are, what is there to say? We live in a world where there is no Ummah. It doesn’t exist.

The silent consent, the lack of protest and the general passivity is disgusting.

There is literally nothing more tragic, God forbid, that could happen that could possibly inspire some sort of call to action.

It’s all there and more.

Black Men and Women abused, and enslaved, treated like animals.

Black children’s cherub faces swollen with salt water, cradled by a warm sea’s waves.

Black people are dying. Black Muslims are dying.

Black Muslims know that Black Refugees Matter.

Black Muslims know that our humanity is not a condition of our skin tone.

We know that our blackness is a bond and not bondage.

We know that our Deen is not mutually exclusive to our place of origin.

Nor is our humanity.

And yet, we must day in and day out struggle to keep it in the face of a racist community that watches us die without blinking an eye. 

A Sea-Watch humanitarian crew member holds a drowned baby off the coasts of Libya.” Think Progress Image Shot by Christian Buttner/EIKON NORD GMBH GERMANY via AP

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