We currently live in a nation where some of the president’s biggest supporters are white nationalists, where the top law enforcement official is tone–deaf to the needs of black communities, and where one of the government’s main priorities is harassing immigrants—particularly Muslims.
So to be a black, U.S.-born Muslim means fighting off discrimination on multiple fronts, even from within the same Muslim community, a Saturday feature story by The Associated Press notes.
According to the report, black U.S.-born Muslims “often feel discrimination on multiple fronts: for being black, for being Muslim, and for being black and Muslim among a population of immigrant Muslims.”
Public health worker Fatimah Farooq, whose parents came to the U.S. from Sudan before she was born, said she’s “constantly trying to prove” that she is not an outsider within her own community.
Washington, D.C. resident Kashif Syed, who volunteers to promote discussion about Muslim identity in the U.S., said that given the country’s current political context, better understanding different members of the Muslim community is more important than ever. And one way to fight against the multiple fronts of discrimination is to reach out and form new alliances.
The AP writes:
‘We’re seeing increasingly visible threats to Muslims across the country now—it’s an important reminder of what black communities have endured for generations in this country,’ said Syed, who volunteers at Townhall Dialogue, a nonprofit fostering discussions about U.S. Muslim identity. ‘I can’t really think of a better time for non–black Muslims to start examining how we got here, and what lessons we can learn from the hard-won victories of black communities from the civil rights movement.’
Asha Noor, whose family fled Somalia’s civil war, said the attempts by the administration of President Donald Trump to impose a Muslim ban are part of a “continuous erasure of the black Muslim experience,” the news agency reported.
But efforts to respond are gaining traction, especially on social media, where people can come together and exchange and confront ideas at hashtags like #BeingBlackAndMuslim.
And in the public realm, there are people like Mahershala Ali, who is the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar for his supporting role in Moonlight, and also widely known for his role in Netflix’s House of Cards.
In the political world, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress in 2007, is tirelessly fighting the good fight. Ellison, who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was appointed in February to the newly created position of the Democratic National Committee’s deputy party chair following the defeat of Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. In an interview in late March, Vanity Fair noted that Ellison is “leading the charge” against Trump’s attempted travel ban on Muslim-majority countries. He also hosts the We The Podcast series, available here, in which the last discussion focused on “Women in the Age of Trump.”
As the AP notes, black U.S.-born Muslims “have been pushed to the edges of the conversations.” It’s time to bring them back in.