By their fellow Muslims!
“How long did you think you were going to be able to run and operate a store that continued to harm and exploit black folks … without reaping what you sow?”
(Sara Hamdan, an IMAN organizer)
As I have said in a couple of previous posts, here and here, we wouldn’t have known that Arab and Asian (New American!) shop owners in Black neighborhoods treated their customers badly, sold them booze, cigarettes and unhealthy food and then went home to nicer neighborhoods every evening if it hadn’t been for the death of George Floyd.
The tensions in ‘diversity-is-strength’ neighborhoods that led up to Floyd’s death is further explained in this story at Religious News Service yesterday.
It seems this isn’t a case of white vs. black racial tension, but one of immigrant Arab exploiters vs. African Americans.
Did you even know that the store that called police on Floyd was a convenience store owned by a Palestinian?
Floyd’s death spurs debate on how immigrants should run stores in black neighborhoods
(Emphasis below is mine)
(RNS) — George Floyd was killed after employees at a convenience store owned by a Palestinian American Muslim — with a Muslim prayer space in its basement — called Minneapolis police over a suspected counterfeit $20 bill.
The role that the store played in Floyd’s death May 25 and in all that followed has been a bitter pill to swallow for many Muslim and Arab communities.
This moment has also reignited ongoing debates in Muslim communities over the ethical duties of immigrants who own businesses in black neighborhoods, from when and if they call the police to the role they can play in creating healthier food ecosystems.
“We know now that escalating situations to the police almost always does more harm than good, even for something as harmless as a fake bill,” Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, owner of the Cup Foods store that called the police on Floyd, wrote in a Facebook post.
Cup Foods, which has served customers in a largely black neighborhood for three decades, will no longer involve the police in nonviolent incidents, Abumayyaleh said.
“By simply following procedure we are putting our communities in danger,” he said in his social media post. Instead, he urged, “Work within your communities to find alternatives to policing, until the point that local and state officials decide to seriously hold police accountable once and for all.”
Food and liquor stores, often owned by Arab and South Asian immigrants, are common in mostly black, low-income neighborhoods. But the relationships between these store owners and the communities they serve have often been fraught with racial tension.
Rami Nashashibi, director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network, says a massive cultural transformation is needed for nonblack Muslim corner store owners to be allies for those they serve.
Since the police killing, IMAN has partnered with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, a racial justice education organization, to launch “Corner Store Witnesses,” a new training curriculum aimed at nonblack Muslim business owners.
Imam Jihad Saafir, who heads Islah LA, an inner-city Muslim community center in South Los Angeles, said stores and restaurants run by Muslim immigrants were often the source of alcohol, cigarettes, drug paraphernalia and unhealthy foods that have taken a toll on locals’ health.
Beyond overpolicing, common concerns with immigrant-owned corner stores include gentrification; exploitative pricing; racist hiring practices; hostile security measures such as bulletproof glass and cages; the sale of alcohol and nicotine products; and the sale of junk food, as well as a lack of fresh produce and other healthy foods.
“In many ways, residents in those neighborhoods perceive those store owners in the same way those Palestinian store owners perceive Israeli settlements in the West Bank,” Nashashibi, who is Palestinian American himself, argued. “What justification are you using to be in that black community?”
But we are marginalized so we can marginalize others!
Many Arab and South Asian store owners respond to allegations of racism by pointing to their own marginalized identities and their need to protect their income. Many are working-class; some are undocumented.
Activist Linda Sarsour, whose father owned a store in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood for 38 years, urged Muslims not to blame Cup Foods’ owner for Floyd’s death, noting that the store has a positive relationship with locals.
“I understand that we have a long way to go to build transformative relationships between Arab/Asian store owners and local Black communities,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “These communities deserve business owners who are contributors to communities not just takers.”
There is much more definitely worth reading!
So where is the outcry by Antifa and its ilk against the racist exploiters of poor African Americans—the Arab and Asian immigrants?
And, where is the mainstream media?