Donald Trump's Dangerous Rhetoric Poses an Imminent Threat to Muslims

by Shahida Muhmmad @ShahidaMuhammad As 2015 wraps up, the looming reality that there is a presidential candidate campaigning on the promi...


by Shahida Muhmmad @ShahidaMuhammad

As 2015 wraps up, the looming reality that there is a presidential candidate campaigning on the promise to deport Muslims, and that even with an African American president, Black women, men, and children are continuously being terrorized by police without consequence, hits very close to home. As many have come to realize, being part of both communities brings another sense of double-consciousness due to the social assaults on both our faith and race.


More so, to be a Black Muslim woman in America today can be seen as a triple threat - of course not in a good way, as we embody and occupy a space of layered complexities, challenges, and discrimination.

Although African American Muslims reportedly make-up about 30% percent of the religious population in the U.S. and have pioneered acceptance and rights for Muslims, we are often overlooked in mainstream discourse of Islam, while at the same time seen as an anomaly in the Black American experience which is often told through nostalgia of Sunday’s at church and all the fittings of Black Christian culture. We’re subjected to racism institutionalized within society and within the larger Muslim world. As Black women our narratives and culture typically don’t fit many of the stereotypes associated with middle eastern countries yet we are quickly lumped into the same presumptions of being oppressed and voiceless, while on the other hand fighting against sexist mentalities that seek to poison the perception and practice of our faith.

It’s a heavy load at times. Yet still, so many of us still manage to fearlessly and unapologetically be ourselves.

In her thesis “Ain't I a Muslim woman?: African American Muslim Women Practicing 'Multiple Critique'” Sara Aceves pulls from the works and thoughts of scholars to give a glimpse into the complexities of this identity:

According 
to 
Kimberley 
Crenshaw, 
"Because 
the 
intersectional
 experience 
is
 greater 
than 
the 
sum 
of 
racism 
and 
sexism,
 any 
analysis that
 does 
not
 take
 intersectionality 
into
 account
 cannot 
sufficiently


address
 the 
particular 
manner 
in 
which
 Black
 women
 are
 subordinated...For
 African
 American 
Muslim 
women,
 sexism 
is
 encountered 
not
 only
 in
 Muslim 
immigrant
 communities 
but
 also 
in 
the
 black community
 and
 the
 dominant 
white
 American
 communities
 at
 large.

In
 addition,
 racism 
is
 not
 only
 encountered 
in
 American
 mainstream
 society, 
with 
its
 already 
tense 
race 
relations,
 but 
in 
the 
Muslim 
community
 where
 race 
dynamics
 are 
not 
problematized
 due 
to 
lofty 
universal
 ideals
 of 
Muslim
 identity
 where
 being
 Muslim
 and
 spiritually
 equal
 is
 all 
that
 matters.

 These 
multiple
 sites,
 along with
 Crenshaw’s 
statement
 about 
the 
intersectional
 experience 
indicate that 
positing 
struggles 
between
 male
 and
 female,
 blackness
 and whiteness, 
is 
too
 reductive.


Now in the current Islamophobic media sensationalism and Donald Trump’s ridiculously comments that only incite paranoia and violence, there is a growing awareness of the obstacles that come with this layered identity. As I scrolled through my facebook feed the other day I was bombarded with stories of Muslim women feeling threatened, being attacked, or concerned about safety due to growing anti-Muslim sentiments. One post warned sisters to be aware of standing too close to the edge of train platforms, another was to be mindful of walking alone with their children.

This is the world we live in - a constant battle on so many different fronts. Whether it’s your blackness, your name, or head-covering, it’s hard to determine which angle people’s ignorance and hate will come from, and because we are often identified by our form of dress, Muslim women are seen as easy targets. For many years women in the Nation of Islam have been encouraged to take up self-defense and be security minded at all times, and in the current climate this attitudes is being adopted by women in other Islamic communities as well.

Growing up in Philadelphia, home to a large population of African-American Muslims, Islam has become so embedded into the culture that at a glance it would be considered a metropolis for Black Muslim life. It’s common to see women garbed in hijab styles working in various professional settings or simply handling day-to-day responsibilities. Seeing crowds gathered outside of the many mosques in the city after Jummah services on Friday or supermarket aisles filled with prayer rugs and scarves are all norms, and it’s not unusual to be greeted with ‘As-Salaam Alaikum’ by strangers who don’t practice the religion. Yet even in my hometown, just recently a pig’s head was left in front of a local Masjid, and there have been ongoing reports of threats.

This week Al Jazeera hosted an insightful discussion titled “Faith in times of Fear” where African American Muslimah host and panelist, Malika Bilal and Donna Auston, both offered poignant commentary and personal testimonies on the intersectionality of race, faith, and womanhood.
In the midst of so much racial tension, violence, and Islamophobia, these type of discussions are so necessary. As Black people in general we are all too familiar with the overwhelming realities of racism and discrimination, so along with being aware, all of us who stand for justice should also feel a responsibility to call-out and check those who participate in the ignorant rhetoric and actions that we see playing out today against Muslims.

As Black Muslim women we often pull from the strides of our ancestors who endured unimaginable oppression and the women of our faith who embraced Islam in decades where it was unheard of. The resilience we’ve inherited through these unique sojourns is often grounded the through the strength and peace we find in our faith, and ironically it is yet another part of who we are that is seemingly under attack.

Photo: Shutterstock.com

Shahida Muhammad was raised in Philadelphia and is currently based abroad in Colombia. Her writing tends to lie within the spaces of Black culture, identity, and womanhood. For more, follow @ShahidaMuhammad on Twitter.

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