When President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry to immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, among others, took effect last month, a few commentators wondered whether the move was designed to target African Americans.
“The idea of a blanket ban of all Muslims seems so far-fetched to anyone outside of this country,” said writer Julia Ioffe in a recent Slate article.
But it turns out that’s exactly what’s happening.
“There’s a long history of targeting people of color, and it’s actually been happening for years,” said the author and activist, a white woman named Julia Ioffs.
“It’s a deeply ingrained form of racism, and I don’t think anyone’s ever had a full conversation about why.”
That racism dates back decades, she continued.
“A lot of people think the term ‘white privilege’ refers to white people’s privilege of privilege of not being the subject of an investigation,” she said.
“In fact, I think ‘white supremacist’ is an oxymoron.
We are racist, and racism is alive and well.”
Ioffes said she has seen her share of racist comments and comments that are intended to “blacken” African Americans as well.
The author of Blacklisted: The Inside Story of How the FBI Targeted Black Journalists, a book about the FBI’s practice of harassing and intimidating Black journalists, also noted that there’s evidence that the ban on Muslim immigrants is rooted in racist attitudes toward the Muslim faith.
But, she said, that’s not to say the Trump administration’s attempt to stigmatize and exclude Muslims isn’t racist.
“I would say it’s definitely not as simple as, ‘I’m not a racist, so stop trying to shut me down,'” Ioffs said.
While some might say that people with a deep-seated fear of Muslim Americans and Muslims in general can’t be trusted to be civil, Ioffs says that’s an unfair characterization.
“They’re all people who are scared of the government,” she explained.
“People who don’t have any understanding of the world, and who don`t understand that they have to protect us from those who are going to do harm to us.”
The most important thing, Ioffs said, is to make sure people aren’t afraid to be themselves.
Ioffss said she’s noticed that many African Americans and Latinos are coming out against the ban and the attacks on Muslims in the wake of it.
“As much as they want to be inclusive, they are also fearful of being the target of that,” Ioffs added.
“And so I think the best thing we can do is support them, and help them to build community and understand that, yes, they have a lot of fears.
We have to make them feel safe.”