A call for funders on 9/11: invest in Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities

September 9, 2021

Democracy Fund is joining funders in a pledge to raise $50 million over the next five years to support Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA) communities deeply impacted by the United States’ response to 9/11. We are proud to join in this effort together with Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, and The RISE Together Fund (a donor collaborative of the Proteus Fund) and encourage other funders to do the same. 

Over the past four years, we have seen a rise in dangerous rhetoric and policies targeting BAMEMSA communities, such as the Muslim, African, and asylum-seeker travel bans. There continues to be a relentless amount of money dedicated to funding Islamophobia and hate. At the same time, many leaders in BAMEMSA communities are on the frontlines fighting for an end to discriminatory policies and legislation. 

Democracy Fund has dedicated a grantmaking portfolio to BAMEMSA-led organizations as they challenge infringements to their civil rights and combat polarizing and racist narratives. As part of this work, we have supported BAMEMSA-led funding collaboratives who help build the “critical social infrastructure”* of BAMESA communities, as well as a number of BAMEMSA led organizations. These grantees include: 

  • RISE Together Fund, the first donor collaborative dedicated to supporting BAMEMSA groups. Their support of grassroots organizations and collective advocacy efforts has contributed to decisions like the executive order rescinding the Muslim, asylum and African bans. 
  • Pillars Fund, a Muslim-led foundation, is building on a decade of funding community organizations. In 2021, they launched their Pillars Artist Fellowship to promote more complex and accurate representations of Muslims in media.
  • The Institute for Social Policy & Understanding (ISPU), which educates and trains journalists across the country to accurately cover Muslims and issues impacting them. Their work reaches millions of people in diverse outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, NPR, and the Washington Post.

We invite you to read the letter we signed and consider joining us in supporting the BAMEMSA community. The attack on civil rights, violation of norms, and unfettered hate speech we have seen over the past 20 years harms our democracy and makes our society more vulnerable to fissures and violence. Supporting BAMEMSA communities is crucial to the fight for a more open, just, and inclusive society and democracy.

BAMEMSA-led grantees of Democracy Fund’s Just and Inclusive Society Project include: 

*Brie Loskota, Executive Director of the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School, uses this term to describe the organizations, practices, norms, and relationships that make up a healthy society. 

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