Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

I wish society didn’t fear me for being a black American Muslim woman

Shahidah Ali

To look at me you see a black woman. I’m not wearing any coverings, no hijab. My name, although ethnically Arabic, may or may not reflect my religious beliefs so most people do not know my religion until I tell them. I don’t pray five times a day, but I do pray and during communal prayer services I am often brought to tears.

More: I have to tell my Muslim kids that some people will never accept them

There is such beauty and solidarity in making salat with other Muslims. Hearing the prayers chanted from different surah’s of the Qur’an always soothes my soul. I don’t eat pork. I wear above the knee dresses and go out to drink with coworkers. I do not wear my religion nor do I consider myself religious, but my heart is Islam. When I read the Qur’an I find peace within myself and I try to be the best person I can be. I am a black American Muslim and neither makes me a woman to be feared by this world.

I’m not surprised by illogical hate and fear, because America sees me as black before they know I am Muslim. I know my history, and I know there are people in America who see my color and feel I am not entitled to the same quality of life as them solely because of my race. I know racism and I know racists but I never believed it would reach the level of personifying our next president. I know racism, but I’m used to the more subtle form of it. I never expected this extreme form of racism from anyone who will be our president, even if I always thought they secretly spewed this rhetoric amongst friends.

More: How to respond thoughtfully if someone accuses you of racism

After 9/11 I felt the backlash of being Muslim in America on top of the exhaustion that can come with being black. I listened to some of my coworkers carefully express their fear of foreign-born Muslims specifically, but all Muslims silently. They asked me why Muslims hated America. I explained those heinous individuals didn’t represent Islam the same way the KKK/white supremacy groups don’t represent Christianity. Like Trump they failed to equate the same ideology and dismiss it altogether. Funny, how people in white America dismiss terrorism so easily when the face is their own. I guess when you’re not the group being attacked it’s not as big a deal – just like it wasn’t a big deal when Hitler went after the Jews.

I’ve listened to the GOP tiptoe around Trump’s declaration of not letting Muslims in the country. Not one emphatically denounced Trump, but instead just said they didn’t agree with his policy. Denying Muslims entry into America and stoking hate against American Muslims is not a policy – it is bigotry. I’ve listened to Trump’s ignorance for the past year and had online debates with many progressives that we were letting history repeat itself. Too many believe we could never have another Hitler in the world. Yet the rhetoric being spewed in our political spectrum sounds a lot like Hitler.

I am a black American Muslim and I know racism and Trump personifies it.

More: I am raising my white children to stand up against racism every single day

Originally published on BlogHer

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.