SURJ Bay Area is committed to standing with our Arab neighbors and community members as they face renewed persecution and Islamophobia! Arab and Middle Eastern communities in the United States have been targeted with a renewed ferocity under the Trump Administration. Policies that for years had been couched in code of “combating terrorism” and “defending national security” are now explicitly framed in Islamophobic terms. It is telling that one of the Trump Administration’s first acts was to ban travel from predominantly Muslim countries, a cruel policy that separated Muslim-Americans from their families, and, as one circuit-court judge wrote, “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination” (p. 12). The current administration is working tirelessly to institutionalize Islamophobia in this country.
The threats the Arab-American community faces do not end with government policy. By declaring that “Islam hates us” and stoking fears of “radical Islamic terrorism” while refusing to acknowledge acts of terror committed by white, domestically born, right-wing extremists, the President has willfully abetted and emboldened Islamophobic violence. Acts of violence against Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities rose 45% in 2017 to levels not seen since 9/11 (p. 3).
Our Arab neighbors, friends, and allies need our solidarity and support more than ever, and you can help the Arab Community in the Bay Area by supporting the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC). AROC is a grassroots organization working to empower and organize the Arab community towards justice and self-determination for all, grounded in the belief that the liberation of Arab people is inextricably tied to the liberation of all people of color.
AROC members build community power in the Bay Area by participating in leadership development, political education, and grassroots campaigns. Recognizing the diversity of experiences and interests within the Arab community, AROC uses a multi-pronged strategy to meet those needs while prioritizing the most marginalized sectors of their constituency. AROC envisions powerful and liberated Arab communities living with dignity, here in the USA and in their homelands. AROC’s work focuses on immigration services, community organizing, and political education. AROC has been active in the Bay Area since 1987, and has played central roles in numerous campaigns, including protests against the Muslim Ban.
AROC’s partnership with SURJ has centered around the Stop Urban Shield Campaign, a multi-organization, grassroots movement against the militarization of police in Alameda County, where AROC took a leading role in exposing the Islamophobic foundation of Urban Shield’s “anti-terrorism” training program. They were a driving force in the relentless community mobilization that led to the vote earlier this year to end Urban Shield as we know it. We in SURJ are proud to stand with the Arab community in celebration of this important victory. It’s also important to note that in 2018, AROC celebrated their 10th anniversary with an event featuring Angela Davis, among other prominent guests. SURJ joined an auspicious group of Bay Area social justice organizations in honoring a decade of AROC’s indispensable contributions to the broader social and racial justice movement in the Bay Area.
We invite you to join our #12DaysToShowUp campaign; 75% of all the funds raised during the campaign will go to local Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led organizations, including AROC. The remaining 25% will be sent to under-resourced, rural SURJ chapters mobilizing white people throughout the U.S to support the growing movement for racial justice.