Open letter: Kurdish-American solidarity with Black Lives Matter
By: Yara Ismael
June 8th, 2020
Father-of-two George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25, the latest black American victim of police brutality in the United States.
A grocery store clerk called police when the 46-year-old allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for goods. Four officers arrived at the scene, one of whom placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, suffocating the 46-year-old to death.
Video footage documenting his death quickly spread across the internet, prompting mass protests and renewed reflection of the Black Lives Matter movement and racism against the Black community in the US and beyond.
The following letter has been written by several Kurdish-American organizations in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Kurdish-American Organizations Stand in Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement
On behalf of eleven Kurdish-American organizations, we express our outrage and deep grief as our communities grapple with the violent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others. Tragically, these deaths are not isolated incidents. They are examples of how racism divides and inflicts suffering on our society, disproportionately affecting people of color. We are completely intolerant of any injustice in our nation.
In the past week, Black Lives Matter protests erupted in all 50 states. While we acknowledge that all non-black people cannot even fathom what Black Americans endure, Kurds fully support the peaceful demands of the BLM Movement. Protestors’ righteous indignation stems from excruciating pain caused not only by Mr. Floyd’s killing, but by 400 years of structural racism. They have made immense contributions to this country since its founding, and yet they suffer from wealth and education disparities, the highest global incarceration rates, and police brutality. Racism against them is not only normalized, but even rewarded in many arenas. We stand together against institutional and societal racism.
As the most prominent Civil Rights Movement leader, Martin Luther King, eloquently explained, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” White supremacy and racism plagues our entire world today. During the same week that Mr. Floyd was killed, Baris Cakan, a 20-year-old Kurd, was stabbed to death in Turkey for listening to Kurdish music. It is our duty as Kurds who have also suffered prolonged state oppression, to support the Black community through all meaningful responses which include donating, peacefully protesting, paying attention, spreading the word, and more. Most importantly, it is pivotal for us to strive to eradicate the bias and racism within our own Kurdish communities worldwide by educating ourselves and enlightening our conversations about racism and racial injustice.
Silence is complacency. Now is the time to stand together, listen, and take action.
Kurdish Refugee Relief Foundation
Kurdish American Medical Association
Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group
Kurdish American Youth Association
Kurdish Student Association at University of Massachusetts, Boston
California Kurdish Community Center
Nursi Islamic Center, Texas Kurdish Community
New England Kurdish Association
Kurdish Community of Southern California
With contributions by Dr. Heval Kelli