Letter of Support (“If you can’t breathe, we can’t breathe!”)…

Al-Salām ʿAlaykum, 

We at Khalil Center, want to express solidarity with the Black community who is experiencing immense outrage and pain following but not limited to the brutal murder of George Floyd. We stand in support with those who have lost family members to police brutality and racism. The killing of George Floyd is a wake up call and reminder to America that it is still haunted by the sin of racism in this country.  It is no secret to any reader of modern history that America was built upon the extermination of Native Americans and on the backs of Africans forcefully enslaved and brought to this part of the world.  As Malcolm X, states, “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, my brothers and sisters—Plymouth Rock landed on us.” The tree of racism in this country continues to bear bitter fruit that has been watered with the blood of many innocent African Americans. At Khalil Center, we do NOT see this as an isolated event, but rather a symptom of a greater disease that needs to be addressed. This is the disease of systematic racism, whether it is manifested through the prison industrial complex, unequal application of the law and law enforcement, inequitable distribution of tax dollars, unequal educational opportunities and invisible ceilings placed on African American communities across the country. 

We recognize that there is incredibile anger and rage. Let us not miss the fact that the fundamental human underlying need for the emotion of anger is JUSTICE. So long as injustice, powerlessness, inequality and silencing continues, the communal trauma of the powerless will not cease.  Malcolm X also said, “I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.” It is our duty to stand with the oppressed.  As the Qur’an exhorts: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives” (4:135).  The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) not only strove to establish justice on earth, but also felt the pain of others, the Qur’an describes him as, “Indeed a messenger has been sent to you, grievous unto him what you suffer, intent over your protection” (9:128).  The Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) was a mercy to all of humanity.  At Khalil Center, as mental health professionals, we can appreciate the impact of trauma. Having said that, we know full well that the communal trauma experienced by the African American community cannot be done justice through a mere show of solidarity, but we also recognize that listening and hearing the pain is a starting point. 

Over the past few days, we have been internally urging our staff to increase their work to confront and support efforts to end systematic inequalities. Along with our umbrella organization, Zakat Foundation of America, which has sent food security to impacted areas by protests, at Khalil Center we want to stay ever aware of the psychological effects and personal experiences of our community members who have been on the receiving end of inequality and oppression. With our partnership with University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)’s Urban Youth Trauma Center, we are scheduling discussion spaces intended to process and learn about ways to increase our own cultural competencies under the leadership of our senior advisor, Dr. Jaleel Abdul Adil (head of Urban Youth Trauma Center) for our staff. We intend to discuss community programming and create the community space for such difficult dialogues in the coming days.

It’s time for us to really listen to what it feels like to be Black in America. Just as the Qur’anic message informs us, that the unjust killing of one is the death of all. We stand united as the pillars of a collective conscious for our society! The silence cannot remain & the calls for change are collectively amplified. We pray that Allāh give relief and patience to all those suffering, and rectify our collective society toward reformation, reparation and justice.

Khalil Center Team

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