Donald Trump's Dangerous Rhetoric Poses an Imminent Threat to Muslims12/09/2015
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.
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.
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.
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.