American Studies department's only 9/11 event focuses on 'anti-Blackness'

An 'anti-Blackness' event is set to be the only 9/11 related event being hosted by the Rutgers American Studies department.

The event features panelists involved in "Critical Race" Studies and addresses issues of "anti-Muslim'"racism

The American Studies department at Rutgers University has one event scheduled addressing the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The event focuses on topics like “anti-Muslim and anti-Black racism,” and features scholars in “Critical Race” Studies.

The event titled, “Islam in/and American, 20 years After 9/11: Muslims, Blackness, & Anti-Blackness” will take place on September 15th and will have two panel discussions featuring professors from Rutgers and other universities.

The description of the virtual event states that 9/11 has created a negative stigma towards Muslims, causing them to be widely viewed as “threat” and “irrevocably linked” to the War on Terror.

The department of American studies does not list a scheduled event honoring the victims of 9/11, or any other events in September.

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“To this day, U.S. political, cultural, and media discourses often portray ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslims’ as suddenly ‘appearing’ upon the national stage on September 11, 2001. As a results, in the two decades since, Islam and Muslims have come to be irrevocably linked to the language and logics of the War on Terror, and viewed as an external, foreign threat, associated with the Middle East, and to a lesser extent, South Asia.”

The event description goes on to explain that Black Americans often face both “anti-Muslim and anti-Black racism.”

“From enslaved African Muslims, to members of the Nation of Islam, to diasporic Muslim communities from Senegal, Somalia, and Sudan, Black Americans are foundational to Islam in/and America, and to this day, comprise almost a fourth of the U.S. Muslim Community.”

“Yes their perspectives and presence are often overlooked in political, cultural, and scholarly conversations about Islam and Muslims, while Black American Muslims themselves negotiate anti-Muslim and anti-Black racism through discourses of activism and advocacy that do not account for intersecting trajectories of race and religion.”

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The university explains that the scholars participating in the event will “offer their reflections on how they teach, write, and think about Muslims, Blackness, and anti-Blackness,” and how that has changed in the years since 9/11.

The first panel will consist of professors “in the field of Islam and Muslims in the United States” who teach courses in various studies including “Critical Race” Studies. 

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Panelist for the event Professor Sylvia Chan-Malik told Campus Reform that she hopes to have a “robust conversation about our theoretical and pedagogical approaches to the subject matter,” adding “I hope students will learn more about the diversity and complexity of Muslim communities both in the United States and worldwide.”

Chan-Malik also shared what her goals are for the event, stating “as one-third of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims live in Africa, and many of the most well-known Muslim figures are African American (e.g. Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali), our event engages scholars of Islam in various fields to highlight how issues of Blackness and Anti-Blackness enrich academic and public conversations around Islam and Muslims.”

Campus Reform has reached out to Rutgers University, the School for Arts and Sciences, and all panelists for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.