A Multiracial Democracy Includes BAMEMSA Communities

Democracy Fund invests in the power and leadership of communities of color. We have long included BAMEMSA communities (Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian) in our approach to strengthen and expand the pro-democracy movement and undermine those who threaten the ideals of an inclusive multiracial democracy in the United States. Our work is grounded in the belief that we must recognize BAMEMSA communities’ full humanity and inclusion in the democracy of our dreams with no tolerance for dehumanization, hate-based discourse, or violence.

Our early funding of these communities began in 2016 in response to fear mongering and hate crimes that were on the rise in the United States. We stood up a special project in 2017 as policies like the Muslim Ban and the separation of families seeking asylum at the border were initiated by the federal government. We more recently expanded this work into our Just & Inclusive Society program, which seeks to support the safety, self-determination, and dignity of marginalized groups in the United States through a shift from providing direct services, to building capacity, power, and momentum across communities. In 2018, we also began focusing on reparations and rights for BAMEMSA communities in online spaces. Our Digital Democracy portfolio works to bring about an equitable digital public square, free of algorithmic discrimination, harm, and bias. We envision a world where communities can create, access, and enjoy media and technology that represents their needs, concerns, and dreams.

As the violence in Israel and Palestine continues to reverberate globally, dehumanizing and racist narratives are fueling Islamophobia, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism, and anti-Semitism here in the United States. Many Americans are fearful for the safety of their communities. In particular, we have witnessed horrific violence especially against Palestinian Americans alongside dramatic increases in reported threats against both Muslim and Jewish Americans.

Democracy Fund has been proud to support efforts to end political violence, whose flames are often fanned by mis- and disinformation. The intersection of these forces — threats of political violence amplified by mis- and disinformation and rising Islamophobia — present particular risks to BAMEMSA communities, which must be fully included in the multiracial democracy we seek.

The commitment and investment BAMEMSA communities have shown to America has been historically unrecognized. BAMEMSA communities are an integral part of the inclusive multiracial democracy we strive for, and their efforts should be recognized and respected by government and philanthropy. We have been particularly concerned over the past several months as we have heard reports from grantees about feeling isolated and under attack. In this moment, we believe it is particularly important to affirm our continued support for the critical work that these organizations undertake.

We are proud to continue to support the following organizations who stand for human dignity, civil and human rights in person and online, and the rights of BAMEMSA communities to thrive in this country. As public discourse evolves this year and beyond, we can’t lose sight of the core idea that a truly just multiracial democracy — and society — must include BAMEMSA communities, including grantee partners like those listed here that animate this vision:

  • Rise Together Fund is the only national donor collaborative dedicated to supporting BAMEMSA communities and advancing their civil rights and promoting their contributions to democracy, culture, and American civil society.
  • Pillars Fund amplifies the leadership, narratives, and talents of Muslims in the United States to advance opportunity and justice for all.
  • The ACRE Institute is a Muslim-led organization working on rights at the intersection of economics and race through housing, labor, healthcare, and other issues.
  • The Disinformation Defense League is a coalition of research and policy organizations that work at the intersection of race and disinformation, including impacts on BAMEMSA communities.
  • El Hibri Foundation empowers and equips American Muslim leaders and their allies to build thriving, inclusive communities.
  • The Independence Public Media Foundation is a Philadelphia-based private foundation focused on public media, narrative and cultural change, and community-serving internet. It supports local BAMEMSA-led and centered organizations working towards multiracial organizing.
  • Inner City Muslim Action Network is a community organization that fosters health, wellness, and healing by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center.
  • The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding is the leading research institute on American Muslims, and their research equips those working toward full and equitable inclusion of American Muslims with solution-seeking research.
  • The National Network for Arab American Communities is a growing network of independent Arab American community-based organizations around the country.

Democracy Fund continues to support and fund these organizations along with their leaders and staff. They are relying on us to meet this moment with them and to not back away from threats to our vision of an inclusive multiracial democracy. We are proud of our longstanding support for organizations working in BAMEMSA communities, who have experienced inequality, marginalization, targeting, and other forms of identity-based discrimination. Our grantees’ work is essential to our democracy. Unfortunately, this work as a whole was significantly underfunded back in 2016, and it remains underfunded in 2024.

Today, we reaffirm our support for BAMEMSA communities and urge other funders, civil society organizations, and leaders to do so as well. The future of our democracy depends on it.

Democracy Fund
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Washington, DC 20036