Arab store owners in Detroit are being killed for and sometimes,” an Arab American engineer told the Arab American News in 2014, with underlying racial tones.He was stating that he stands with the police against Black Lives Matter protesters.
After the shooting of Alton Sterling and Filando Castile, Take On Hate organized a meeting between black, Arab and Muslim activists to explore ideas to increase political solidarity across communities.Jermaine Carey of the Muslim Center Detroit urged sincerity in compassion.In 2014, a prominent Arab American activist from Dearborn was arrested during a protest against police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri.Simultaneously, local Arab social media users were calling the protesters thugs.The Kerner Commission Report blamed “an increasingly disturbed social atmosphere” for the unrest.
The report, which highlighted the roots of violent protests that broke out across several American cities, slammed racist patterns in white-black relations that date back to slavery.
Almost half a century later, complaints of racism and fears of white-led gentrification are rising in Detroit.
Meanwhile, Arab Americans who gained a foothold in the city by expanding their small business ownership after chain stores left, continue to struggle with their own identity, unable to agree on their place in the race construct and power structure.
Relations between Arabs and blacks in Detroit are complicated and vary across generations and political leanings.
Racial tensions in Detroit exploded into riots in 1967.
“These two communities coexist,” the professor said.