After a few years away, the community organizations Take On Hate and Muslim ARC, or Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, have brought back the Race Identity Series. The six-part course on anti-racism takes place once a month from January through June.
Namira Islam Anani, community engagement director for Muslim ARC, is the lead facilitator for the Race Identity Series. We asked her all about it.
Q: How did this series initially come about? How did the idea form into its final format?
The Race Identity Series (RIS) came about in partnership between Asha Noor and Aysha Jamali at Take On Hate and myself and Margari Hill at MuslimARC in 2016. MuslimARC has been working on community education curriculum since 2014 and Asha and Margari's collaboration, in particular, is what led to the six month series in its entirety, which I was able to deliver on the ground in Dearborn. Asha and her team at Take On Hate were instrumental in creating a space for Margari's curriculum to shine and provide a great base of knowledge for the community members who attended.
Q: Why is it important?
The cool thing about MuslimARC's Race Identity track of curriculum is the multi-disciplinary approach to community education. Each workshop contains material presented for different learning styles and incorporates sources from many different fields of expertise. The way the participants and facilitator(s) engage and learn from each other is part of the magic of having a community of learning to explore the complex and nuanced subjects that come up in becoming active anti-racists in our society.
Q: Can you characterize how a typical class might unfold?
The workshops are usually three hours in length on a weekday evening. We usually start out with time for dinner and dialogue between participants. We take space for grounding and (re)visiting community agreements and then move into a short lecture and presentation. From there and sometimes interspersed with the lecture, we break into exercises--large group, small group, pairshare, etc--to better understand the material. We usually close with some form of a closeout and space for evaluations/feedback.
Q: What can students expect by the end of the series?
Our objectives for the Race Identity Series include participants completing the arc with a solid grasp of certain key concepts around race, racism, identity, narrative, and solidarity. Participants will get a chance to explore their own identity development, set goals for changes they want to see in the world around them, and understand their own place in our society in a different way. Lastly, and importantly, in the spirit of our faith-based work stemming around Verse 49:13 in the Qur'an which speaks to the purpose of people from different "nations and tribes" getting to "know one another," we see that participants truly do get to know other participants in the space in a much deeper way, leading to new friendships and more layered relationships with other people across lines of difference.
Q: Any special guests or other surprises planned?
We don't currently have any special guests or surprises planned, but I often note that the participants make the space what it is. In that lens, the journey of self-discovery and getting to know one another leads to some powerful reflections and beautiful human stories in the space together.