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Shedding Light on Muslim Americans -- New Projects Give Voice to a Marginalized Community

COMMUNITY CORNERSTONE: The Arab American Association of New York takes on all sorts of work, from helping immigrants get health care to organizing park clean-ups (above). Now we’re supporting the group as it coordinates efforts to counter Islamophobia in the City’s Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities.


Think of your favorite TV shows. Any Muslims in the cast? Are they portrayed in a positive light? Chances are the answers are No and No

Public perception of American Muslims is largely shaped by the media, and 80 percent of coverage is negative, according to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Quite a few experts warn that the 2016 presidential election has stoked the flames of anti-Islam prejudice.

In the past year, suspected hate crimes and other forms of racial and religious bigotry increased dramatically. In response, The Trust is funding eight grants that highlight Muslim Americans’ contributions.

“Muslim Americans are part of the diversity that we love about New York,” says Shawn Morehead, Trust program director. “The media and public perception should reflect this reality.” 

The new grants: 
  • Arab American Association of New York, $90,000, to connect Muslim leaders, organizers and advocacy groups across the City so they can respond to anti-Islamic rhetoric and stereotyping. 
  • Asian American Writers’ Workshop, $75,000, to provide emerging Muslim, Arab, and South Asian writers with workshops, fellowships and mentors to help publish stories that counter Islamophobia. 
  • Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, $80,000, to research and publish data on the contributions of Muslim New Yorkers. 
  • New York University, $50,000, to educate New Yorkers about Islam by hosting cultural events, information sessions, and producing videos and podcasts. 
  • Seftel Productions, $50,000, to produce a series of short films entitled “The Secret Life of Muslims,” highlighting the varying experiences of Muslim Americans. 
  • South Asian Youth Action, $80,000, to develop leadership skills in South Asian male adolescents and teens. 
  • Turning Point for Women and Families, $80,000, to develop leadership skills in Muslim girls and young women. 
  • WNET, $50,000, to create online resources for teachers to educate their students about Islam. 

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