Celebrating Black History Month at AAFSC

February 7, 2020

In honor of Black History Month, the Arab-American Family Support Center joins the country in honoring the accomplishments of Black Americans in the United States and the contributions of the Black community across the globe.

Although we were founded by the Arab-American community, which is reflected in our agency’s name, we are proud to serve all immigrants, refugees, and vulnerable community members who walk through our doors. This includes New York City’s vibrant Black community – which makes up a quarter of the city’s population and of which a fifth of our clients identify – who we are proud to serve and advocate for daily.

We consider every day an opportunity to celebrate racial and cultural diversity but are taking dedicated time this February to reflect on the crucial role that the Black community has played in shaping our history and how we can all collectively serve as better allies and advocates.  As an organization committed to social justice and racial equality, we recognize that the Black community’s demonstrated courage, resilience, and leadership paved the way for us to do the work we do now: contributing to positive change and collectively seeking solutions for all of our marginalized communities and neighborhoods to have equitable access to resources.

While they played a huge role in building the more inclusive society we enjoy today, the Black community in the United States continues to face the brunt of systemic discrimination.

We see targeted discrimination every day. The Muslim Travel Ban, one of the most troubling immigration policies to date, is a clear example. The ban was recently expanded to prevent people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, Venezuela, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania from entering the United States. Of these 13 countries, 5 are African countries with predominantly black communities. The ban – motivated by religion and race – disproportionately impacts Black Muslims and their families. This is significant, considering that Black Muslims account for a fifth of all American Muslims. AAFSC has committed to fighting against the Travel Ban and other policies that unfairly target certain communities.

To supplement our activism, we are also taking steps to ensure we are embedding Black History Month lessons in our programs right here at our center. Our Readiness Program and Young Adult Programs have a comprehensive curriculum this month that includes Black History Month conversations, history lectures, and activities. This reflects our ongoing dedication to provide a holistic education that embraces the histories, cultures, and accomplishments of all of our diverse communities.

As always, AAFSC is steadfast in its commitment to fight against anti-Blackness, racism, xenophobia, and all forms of bigotry here in New York and across the country. We value the partnerships we have built with Black organizations, elected officials, and community members and hope to continue working together to create a brighter community for all.