A Letter To The President

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to the first White House Eid celebration. I accepted that invitation, primarily, to deliver a letter to President Barack Obama. I am sharing that letter in order to bring further attention to the issues it raised.

July 21, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

As you know, Eid al Fitr is a holiday that commemorates Ramadan, which is a month of fasting that calls us to reevaluate the ways we live on this planet, rectify transgressive behavior and renew our commitments to good work. Ramadan also reminds us, through the different forms of self-restraint, self-sacrifice and charity, of the plight of those suffering. Thus, it's only appropriate that I take the occasion of this first White House Eid celebration to speak directly to the issue of suffering in this nation.

As a Black Latina Muslim woman, I am triply impacted by the violence and structural inequalities that come from and reproduce, anti-Black racism, anti-Muslim racism, and gender oppression. My loved ones and I have been and are vulnerable to police brutality and disproportionate incarceration. We are also the victims of hate crimes as Muslims and unjust targeting, surveillance, detention and deportation by local and federal law enforcement and other government agencies. I also face socioeconomic disadvantages making just 60 cents on the dollar in comparison to both White women, at 79 cents, and White men, despite being among the most educated in this nation.

I know so intimately what it means to suffer, to be marginalized and rendered invisible and I believe the following recommendations proposed by grassroots organizers around the country, like Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero and others, could do much to change the fundamental reality for many Americans.

The creation of effective mechanisms to prevent, track, adjudicate and ultimately eliminate police brutality.

Defund all countering violent extremism programs whose faulty premises and policies unjustly single out and stigmatize Muslims, particularly Muslim youth.

Increase federal funding for initiatives for advancing equity for women and girls of color.

End extrajudicial killings and drone attacks that have proven to be a fundamental danger to innocent civilians.

Remove Assata Shakur from the FBI terrorist list and granting her pardon, along with Mumia Abu Jamal, Imam Jamil Al-Amin and all political prisoners in the United States.

These issues are just some of the many faced by my communities and those I stand in solidarity with and I recognize the solutions will be many and complex. I also realize that you are near the end of your term but it is never too late to deploy the power of the presidency to champion real justice for communities of color, religious minorities and all women.

In the spirit of freedom, justice and equality,
Su'ad Abdul Khabeer