Groundbreaking Conversation on Racial and Cultural Attitudes
In a world that often accentuates differences and sows seeds of discord, PAAMA USA stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the strength of unity, understanding, and shared purpose. This sentiment is beautifully echoed in the Holy Quran, which says:
“O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and subtribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” [Quran, Al Hujurat 49:13]
Such wisdom reminds us that our differences are not grounds for division but an opportunity for mutual understanding and appreciation.
In a remarkable testament to their commitment to unity and understanding, the Pan African Ahmadiyya Muslim Association USA (PAAMA USA) leaders convened to hold a brave conversation addressing racial and cultural attitudes and behaviors within their community. The meeting on Sunday, August 13, 2023, over Zoom, was convened by President Basiyr Rodney to signal the start of a new administration as he has recently been appointed by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba). The focus of the meeting was not just on disparities and distinctions but more on how the American societal lens affects immigrant perceptions of African Americans.
The sentiment many African immigrants share upon entering the US is a complex weave of awe, aspiration, and, often, unintentional misconceptions. Often, these perceptions are shaped by what they’ve been exposed to via media, stories, and stereotypes. African-Americans’ histories and struggles in the US are often at the center of this societal narrative.
Members openly and honestly shared their feelings during this courageous conversation, creating a platform for genuine understanding. African-American and African-PAAMA members spoke from their hearts, casting aside preconceived notions and societal pressures to find common ground.
One of the significant revelations from the meeting was the emphasis on unity in diversity. While members acknowledged the presence of personal, household, rural vs. urban, and even broader cultural differences within Africa, they firmly believed that these differences should not define them. Instead, they accentuated the beauty of unity that PAAMA under the system of Khilafat embodies.
As PAAMA USA endeavors to bridge understanding between its African-American and African members, it’s essential to consider the deep-seated historical discrimination African Americans have faced, particularly in education and social capital. The systemic barriers placed upon them, limiting access to quality education and equal opportunities, have stifled generational advancement. Such historic inequalities of birth have negative perceptions and lead to disproportionate school and social punishments, further exacerbating poor educational outcomes. Recognizing these entrenched challenges is vital for PAAMA members, allowing them to foster a richer understanding and work collectively towards an environment where every individual’s potential is nurtured, free from the shadows of past injustices.
The commitment to this initiative was evident, with an impressive turnout of 18 out of the 21-member executive team. Such a remarkable attendance signals the importance and urgency of this conversation in the eyes of the PAAMA USA leadership. Leaders represented their various national offices and geographic regions. This representation also reflected their commitment to mutual understanding and justice from the grassroots level.
But the conversation doesn’t end here. The leaders have pledged to engage in prayers, continue these meaningful conversations, showcase unity, and partake in service under Khilafat. This dedication isn’t just the hallmark of PAAMA; it’s a testament to the resilience and agreement of the human spirit, which seeks to understand, learn, and grow together, irrespective of borders and backgrounds.
In a world that often accentuates differences and sows seeds of discord, PAAMA USA stands as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the strength of unity, understanding, and shared purpose.