Moving on: Race, Islam, and Privilege

I’m a few hours into 2008, on the eve before New Year’s eve, I ran across Umm Zaid’s blog. She has a lot to say, and like all of us, her viewpoint on issues is shaped by her background and experiences.** I always find it interesting to hear what Muslims who are not Black American have to say about race and privilege in the Muslim community. This particular blog entry highlighted major events and trends in 2007. She wrote:

In addition, sore points finally rose to the surface: the divide between immigrant Muslims and indigenous Muslims, especially Blackamericans. It’s always been there, but this seemed to be the year when everyone started talking about it. A lot of issues have been raised, and a lot of feelings have been hurt. Again, it’s a question of whether or not we’re going to move forward or if we’re going to hash and rehash every wrong, every slight, every issue of alienation between us. We have work to do.

While I agree with the overall sentiment–we can’t just be hung up on bitching and moaning–I am more than ambivalent with this message. Yes there is work to do. And many of us who are exploring the ways race, class, and gender intersect in the Muslim world are community activists. We are thinking, we are talking, we are writing, and we are doing work.

First, as Umm Zaid stated Muslims have finally began to really talk about the racial divide in the American Muslim community? How are you going to tell folks to move on from a topic when they’ve only just begun to explore it. I’ve been Muslim 14 years and only recently have a few writers and thinkers finally gave voice to what I have experienced and observed. When I began to observe patterns of discrimination in my immigrant dominated community, a lot of Muslims were in denial. Some even went so far as to claim that I was paranoid or making things up. Maybe it is convenient to want to dismiss the grievances I had. Then as I met more and more people, we began to discover that we were struggling. I was very happy to see a number of issues that are endemic to the Black American Muslim community addressed at the 2007 MANA conference. These conversations are beneficial because 1. they help individuals realize they are not crazy and 2. recognizing our realities we can begin to come up with some solutions. But if we follow this injunction we might be in trouble and lose another generation.

There is a need for a deeper exploration of the racial perceptions that immigrant Muslim bring to the American community, as well as American Muslim perceptions of immigrants. We need to examine the patterns of discrimination that perpetuate inequality in the American Muslim community. Without proper understanding of the issues we face, we will never be able to bridge the rifts that are dividing us. While there are scholars studying various religious and ethnic communities in America, American Musilms have been under-studied. That means there is little knowledge about our social, cultural, and political patterns. We don’t even have solid statistics of our marriage and divorce rates. We can’t even produce numbers on the patterns of intermarriage between communities. But because of the internet, through forums and blogs, a long silenced voices are beginning to speak of the realities that are in stark contrast with the ideals that we believe in. While these stories are anecdotes, we can glean that there are some broader patterns.

Secondly, the thing that makes this statement troubling is that reflects a general sentiment in America.The popular notion that we are living in a color blind society and that Muslims are especially color blind has been used to silence the people who are the most discriminated against. I’m not saying that Black Americans have been really deft at broaching this issue. I think there are ways that we can better engage the broader Muslim community with the issue that affect us. In addition, I find is troubling is that Black American Muslims and White American Muslims seem to be living that great divide. Even for us professional, educated and Middle Class Black American Muslims that divide exists. Few thinkers or scholars have deeply explored why.

The ambivalence that I have towards this sentiment also reflects my frustration with the broader trend in America. I have long suspected that this sentiment was shared by a number of people, especially immigrants because they may be perpetuating discrimination. But I guess I was a little surprised to see them articulated by white American Muslims. It just cut too close to rhetoric and attitudes that are outlined in
Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. A review of the book states:

These scholars are putting forward a fresh analysis of racial injustice that sets aside overt prejudice and individual acts of discrimination, which they say have little actual impact in today�s world. Instead they pull back the covers on social practices and policies sewn into the fabric of work, school and the medical system that privilege whites. Even the most well-intentioned white person, they say, benefits from a legacy of accumulated preferential treatment.

We are all influenced by certain ideologies and American myths. Some of the myths we are taught as Americans actually perpetuate inequality. Perhaps the myth of the color blind ummah also blinds us from seeing how racism and classism play out in our communities.

I’m not trying to bash the sister. Not at all. I think that people who want Black American Musilms to just move on and stop talking about discrimination and inequality are well meaning. But I wonder if at this stage of the discussion should people like Umm Zaid enter in the dialog, especially when they are insisting that we just pack up and move on. Or maybe she isn’t part of the dialog, but making an outsider commentary. At this stage, many of us in the Black American Muslim community are trying to put our cards on the table. It makes me wonder if these dialogs should be closed in order to avoid the dissonance. At the same time, I am reminded that Civil Rights leaders going back from Reconstruction times to the civil rights movement were constantly told to not make waves, that they were trouble makers–basically they were told to stay in their place. Without meaning to attack anyone, I just wanted to remind folks that silencing this discussion will not help advance our cause. It actually makes me keenly aware of how unaffected some of us are and how in their privilege they can afford to just be Muslim. Meanwhile, I have to make sense of the opportunities and limitations that are afforded to me as a Muslim who happens to be Black and who happens to a woman in America. Not everyone is directly affected by racism. You may not be subject to anti-Black discrimination or you may not be a person perpetuating anti-Black discrimination. These issues may be illegible an insignificant in your life. And you have every right to remain uninterested. And if you are an uninterested party, you don’t have to weigh in. But then again, weighing in implies you have some interest in the dialog going a certain way. But by you insisting which direction it should go, isn’t that asserting some kind of privilege?

**This is a correction where I stated that Umm Zaid was white after I was informed that Umm Zaid was not White America but white skinned.

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22 thoughts on “Moving on: Race, Islam, and Privilege

  1. Asalaamu alaikum.

    Clearly you do not read UmmZaid’s blog on a regular basis if this is what you got out of that one post. You have very poorly represented her views and the discussion that she has always been at the forefront of and twisted what she said in this particular post. For example, she never in any way said that people should “get over the race issues”. She has also always been one of the strongest to speak about privelage and against a “color blind utopia”. And for the record, she isn’t white either. Although frankly it’s pretty low to make assumptions and jump to such ridiculous conclusions while putting words into her mouth just because you think she must be white and therefore is perpetuating white privelage. I do not know how you could take one or two paragraphs and turn them into something completely different than what she said and publicly ridicule a sister just because you have one perspective. This post is full of very truthful and important information but you have done it a disservice by using it to smack down another sister that you don’t even know anything about.

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  2. Asalamu Walaikum,
    I doubt many white sisters even “get” white privilege. I just finished reading Colonize This! and the running theme (aside from the L-word) is that the educated white profs didn’t think race had anything to do with feminism and were just in denial about their own white privilege…now if that’s how women with Phds think- what about the denial/ignorance of yer average white Muslimahs like me?…okay, I totally don’t think of myself as average, astagfriallah!
    I grew up in the bay area too and believed all the tolerance stuff I was force fed…easy enough when you are a white girl, no doubt. It wasn’t until a sister told me that an AA sister had told her…That whenever the AA sister sat with a white sister, no matter how nice the niceties, in the end she always felt the white sister still thought of her as just another nigger. That was shocking to me. Burst my little rainbow hued bubble…seriously.
    We have work to do is a glaringly obvious (dead) statement-BUT I’m glad some of you Muslims are upwardly mobile enough to attend these events and I thank Allah for the internet! I feel rather overwhelmed by the race stuff. Being in a tiny community, it becomes painfully obvious how common racism/classism/sexism is amongst the Ummah.
    I get rather irritated with “interfaith dialog” when I see what a mess we are…but I do wonder if nationalism/racism will always be a fitna for the Ummah…or maybe up ’til the last days?
    Love and Peace,
    ~Brooke

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  3. Aminah,
    I understand your defense of Umm Zaid. But rest assured, this was not a personal attack nor was this ridiculing her. Picking apart someone’s statement is not ridicule. And I will make corrections as noted. When I have posted elsewhere, people have made assumptions of my identity. But on this blog, I am clear who and what I am in order to be clear about where my biases lie.

    This is not twisting up what she was saying, nor was it attempting to read into her other posts. It was trying to deal with the broader sentiment in the Muslim community of getting Black American Muslims to stop talking about race or to tell them how they should talk about it.

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  4. Sister,

    Why are you keep posting always! good entries when I am busy?

    I hope you will continue with your patience and try to explain why it is an important issue.

    Let me give an example:

    Love to continue, Insha’Allah next week.

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  5. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    You misread me. I clarified in my comments as well. I never said “silence yourselves,” I said, “Well what are *we* going to do about it?” Unfair, sister, unfair.

    If you can find the line where I said “Black American Muslims need to stpo talking about this,” I’ll give you a bouquet of flowers. Frankly, it’s unfair for you to make it seem like I was slapping the hands of Blackamerican Muslims, which I certainly was not. I wasn’t slapping anyone’s hands, in fact. I just want to know what we’re going to do. The MANA conference was a first step, and a great one. I want to know when ISCAIRNAMASPAC are going to join in, frankly.

    It also seems that you are unaware, and maybe there are good reasons for this, that this issue isn’t being talked (overtalked, in someways) in the social circles of non-Black Muslims. Believe it or not, the feelings of being alienated, unwanted, and hated are felt by Muslims of any given race when they encounter others. I know some Desi Muslims (2nd gen, “doctor’s kids” and all that) who felt that wounds they had received in the Muslim community, esp. as young kids and college age, were exposed and poked at all over again when that first NYT article on this came out.

    There is a difference between talking constructively about things (and last time I checked, racial issues in the American Muslim community were not confined to Blacks, Arabs, and Desis), and what *some* of us have gotten into which is just sheer ridiculosity. “Those Desi doctors don’t really have diyn.” “Yeah those Black people just wear pants above their ankles and call it Islam.” These things have always been said, but now people seem to be saying them under the rubric of “talking out what needs to be talked.” It’s not. And more openly IME, but maybe that’s a regional thing. One thing I do know is that what “the Muslim community” is up to in one area of the country is not the experience of “the Muslim community” some place else. That’s what I was talking about. I don’t find that constructive.

    Nor was my comment directed at Blackamericans either, so don’t make it like I was just recycling that same old “Black people need to get over it” line. Unless, of course, the fact that Desis, Arabs, and others (Latinos? Whites? Native Americans? East Asians?) *also* feel some of these feelings and *are* talking about it hasn’t hit your radar, which may be understandable.

    I want people to work towards the idea of an Islam where this stuff isn’t so large. I don’t see why you have a problem with that. A few years ago, we were all so proud of ourselves, clapping ourselves on the back about the progress we were making with women’s issues b/c there were some newspaper articles on masjid access and CAIR finally woke up to the realities and so on and so forth. And all it was was a lot of talk, and very little action. We are good at talk, but what are going to *do* about it? I want to know what we’re going to do.

    Finally, you don’t know me, you don’t know my background, you don’t know where I’m from, you don’t know where I came up. It is as unfair for you to make assumptions about me based on some posts you read online as it would have been for me to say the words you put in my mouth. You can say this wasn’t about dumping on me all you want. Not tearing me apart, but saying I want to shut up Blackamerican Muslims? Whatever.

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  6. Umm Zaid,
    I am glad you clarified some things. So the issue is not silencing, but you feel that many people who are talking about the racial divide are complaining and not acting?

    You may feel that this is a personal attack. It is not. The words you wrote may have happened to reflect a sentiment that is widespread, a sentiment that I’m pushing back from. I have long admired your work as a blogger and have respect for you as a sister. But if you want to make it personal, that is your choice. I linked directly to your blog not to draw attention to myself. But to inform you that that brief paragraph had raised some important issues for me.

    I have learned that when I put words out there, they can be ripped to shreds. I’m learning that as a writer and scholar, not to take critiques personally. It is sort of part of the “business.” Since there are limited rules or protocols on how to engage in discourse on blogs, I chose this to write on my own blog as a reflection of broader issues.

    But if you want to accuse me of pettiness of cattiness, I will provide evidence for why I extrapolated from your words this sentiment. I didn’t think it was a stretch to imply that there was a sentiment to stop talking about these issues from this statement: “Again, it’s a question of whether or not we’re going to move forward or if we’re going to hash and rehash every wrong, every slight, every issue of alienation between us.”
    I’m working with the words you wrote and the sentiment that they seemed to imply. I am also reflecting on my own experiences when I was told to not explore the differences between W.D. community political engagement and ISNA in 1996. I have been silenced many times from talking about race, class and gender in the Muslim community.

    You wrote in another entry on Identity issues. These too implied that you feel like those who are raising this issue are “obsessed” and “nafsy”:
    “So when I would log on and read stuff, I was always really struck with how obsessed we are with identity issues. When you move away and become disconnected from this constant conversation, you start to think about it less. Actually I do, but in the wake of the MANA conference, it seems like it’s back in my mind. Probably b/c everyone’s talking about it.”

    “I wish I could tell you all to slow down… that it’s becoming bigger in the discussion than it needs to be, but maybe that’s just where we’re at in the Western communities right now.”

    “Muslims’ social issues do need to be discussed — or solved, rather. I’m not sure that this is the most productive way. Sometimes things just need time to work out.”

    “There is something more important than our identity and “making our voices heard.” Other Muslims have rights on us, rights that were not qualified by Allah and His Messenger (aleyhi salatu wa salaam) by things like “Unless they’re Black women,” or “Unless they grew up in the suburbs,” or “Unless they eat tofu.””

    When I said I find it interesting, I didn’t mean it in a pejorative way. I meant that I take interest in the various opinions that non-Blacks have about race relations. I didn’t make any assumptions of your background besides what you stated in your blog, that you were white skinned. Just like anyone else, I am shaped by my own experiences. I will openly admit that what I implied is that some people can afford to just be Muslim, while others of us are openly confronted with racialized issues on a daily basis.

    But clearly, your defensive language implies that you are not open to discussion with me. My blog was focused on your statement about Black American Muslims. I think you make an assumption about what I know about other ethnic communities. You may assume to know why. I wonder if you are implying that I only interact with Black American Muslims and am out of touch with the rest of the Muslim community. But that is fine. You have a right to your own assumptions, just as I may extrapolate from others’ blogs.

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  7. Barikallah! This is a GREAT post. Would you mind if I cross posted it at MMW, too?
    Also, I didn’t read this post as an attack on Umm Zaid or non-Black American Muslims. I read this post as your thoughts on Umm Zaid’s thoughts on how everyone is finally talking about these topics within the Muslim community, and your thoughts on this dialogue in general.

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  8. Pingback: Moving On: Race, Islam, and Privilege at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  9. Salaams,

    I’ve been lurking, so I figured now is a good time to make myself known.

    Thanks for the post. I do believe that even if people do not think they are silencing others, they may make comments to domesticate a dialogue in a way that eventually quails discussion. Allah knows best and I don’t want to speculate on intentions behind rhetoric. However, when I read the excerpt I derived similar meaning. The phrase “whether or not we’re going to move forward or if we’re going to hash and rehash every wrong, every slight, every issue of alienation between us. We have work to do,” reminds me so much of . And, I would say YES, yes we need to discuss the wrongs because in order to “move forward” we need to know the nuanced problems so we can develop sustainable solutions. Silence is dangerous. Not discussing the wrongs have often become a way to pretend certain problems don’t exist. I agree, we need to speak about these issues in a productive manner that leads to action. However, while we are sorting out these issues, one cannot expect everything to be a clean and immaculate process where dirty laundry is not aired. And, it is not about a “slight”; the segregation in our Ummah is not a slight; it is abominable. And as a note, it has never been about “hurt feelings” in the Ummah; it has been about the reproduction of racism with the Ummah at the very moments that Muslims are lodging complaints and establishing organizations to address racism against Muslims post 9/11. For me it’s about hypocrisy, and myopia. Hurt feelings, while important, are the least of my concern.

    In direct response to Umm Zaid’s comment, the alienation that is felt by Black American (and I would say Latino and Native American) Muslims is not the same as the alienation felt by “Desis, Arabs, etc.” You said that “…the fact that Desis, Arabs, and others (Latinos? Whites? Native Americans? East Asians?) *also* feel some of these feelings…” Of course, correct me if I misinterpreted this. I think the assumption that the alienation is the same or closely aligned is where part of the problem lies. Universalizing the experiences of alienation across the greatly varied histories and experiences of Muslims is problematic. Universalizing is always a dangerous activity because narratives and voices fall through the cracks. I would say that because unlike Arabs, Desis, etc. who are assumed to be “indigenously” Muslim, Black and Latino Muslims in America are often assumed to be alien to the Muslim community a whole. And there are other nuances concerning the history of Black, Latino and Native Americans that makes the experience with Islam and in Muslim communities different. This is not to say that this narrative is placed on all Black, Latino and Native American Muslims by other Muslims; rather, it is to say that we should be careful not to homogenize experiences. From what I have heard and read from Arab and Desi Muslims, their alienation is rooted in distance from their parent’s generation and practice of Islam. While I am not establishing a hierarchy of alienation, the experiences are different and should be treated as such. While we can definitely get so lost in discussing that we forget to act, but I have always seen discussing/acting/reflecting as a connected process that needn’t be segregated.

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  10. That statement

    ““whether or not we’re going to move forward or if we’re going to hash and rehash every wrong, every slight, every issue of alienation between us.

    sounds to me like she saying why keep dwelling on the past, just move on.Thats what I got from it but I agree with you Margari when your faced with racism day in and day out you cant not talk about you, it affects you its part of your life whether we like it or not. And really it just makes me feel like muslims who aren’t black don’t really have concern for their muslim brother or sister like they should.sympathise with me on the strength that we are two muslims trying to worship Allaah even if you cant relate.

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  11. Salaam,

    All I see is posturing and hardening and no real benefit being derived. The people that agree with you will be delighted while those that disagree with you will just ignore you. It’s hard to make demands when one is in need (material and/or emotional), if don’t believe it is in their interest to do as you’d like them to do, they simply wont. I don’t see much effort in that direction happening.

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  12. Salaams passingby,
    pleas clarify:

    “It’s hard to make demands when one is in need (material and/or emotional), if don’t believe it is in their interest to do as you’d like them to do, they simply wont.”

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  13. Check out this new study that is all about how American’s view Muslims.

    Perceptions Differ of Woman With and Without a Shawl on her Head –

    FLEMINGTON, N.J., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ — A new national study of more
    than 600 Americans revealed that a woman wearing a shawl or hijab,
    typically worn by Muslim women, is viewed significantly different than the
    same woman without the traditional headwear.

    The study was conducted by HCD Research, using its mediacurves.com web
    site during January 2-3, to determine whether Americans possess different
    views of a woman based on whether or not she wears traditional Muslim
    headwear.

    Participants were divided into two randomly assigned groups. Members of
    each group were asked to view one of two separate photos of an attractive
    young woman. Neither photo was identified in any way. Each sample was then
    asked identical questions about the woman, her age, perceived personality,
    activities, and how acceptable she might be as a neighbor.

    One-third of participants indicated that they would rather have the
    woman with the traditional headwear live in another place, another city,
    and maybe out of the U.S., as opposed to living in their neighborhood.
    However, a clear majority of participants (89%) reported that the woman
    without the shawl would be welcome in their neighborhood.

    The woman with the shawl on her head was perceived as somewhat older,
    and somewhat better off financially than the woman without the shawl. While
    the woman with the shawl was more likely to be a stay at home mother, the
    woman without the shawl might be a working married woman.

    The woman with the shawl on her head was also viewed as much more
    traditional than the woman without the shawl. Participants also indicated
    that the woman with the shawl was strict and rigid, a good wife and devoted
    mother. She was also perceived as keeping to herself or a tight circle of
    people. Conversely, the woman without the shawl was perceived to be lively,
    friendly, and humorous. She was also viewed as a person who “always looks
    at the bright side” and might even be the life of the party.

    Overwhelmingly, both photos of the woman were viewed as being
    attractive. However, more people thought the woman with the shawl was
    beautiful, and both women were seen as trustworthy.

    At the end of the questionnaire, the participants specifically
    identified the woman with the shawl on her head as Middle-Eastern in origin
    and a Muslim; the woman without the shawl was perceived as an American and
    a Catholic (maybe Protestant or Jewish).

    For detailed information on this study, please go to
    http://www.mediacurves.com The Media Curves web site provides the media and
    general public with a venue to view Americans’ perceptions of popular and
    controversial media events and advertisements.

    Headquartered in Flemington, NJ, the company’s services include
    traditional and web-based communications research. For additional
    information on HCD Research, access the company’s web site at http://www.hcdi.net
    or call HCD Research at 908-788-9393.

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  14. Wow, what an awesome post and following discussion. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head so I think I’m going to put it forward in dot point form. I know its inelegant but organising it into a proper form will take a good amount of time so here goes:

    * First of all, the topic of the post is definitely a valid one. The issue of racism within the Muslim community has been around a long time. For years I’ve heard anecdotal evidence of racism expressed by Black Muslims from other Muslims (specifically Arab Muslims) in the Middle East. Just ask any African who has ever lived in the Gulf states about how they felt they were treated. Its in the history too, I believe there is some evidence supporting the fact that a lot of the slaves sent to the Americas were actually sold to the slave traders by Arabs.

    * I grew up in Australia, and the indigenous Muslims (ie Australian Aboriginals who had reverted to Islam) would talk about how they would be treated as second class citizens by the rest of the Muslim community.

    * I have a theory as to why this happens. The immigrant Muslims who arrive in the country (whether its the US or Australia or anywhere else) end up getting caught in the mentality of that country of how to advance within that society. They feel that they sympathise with the African American Muslim converts, and feel pride in the fact that so many of them are seeking out Islam, but they start toeing the general American line of “Why dont they just move on, slavery is over etc etc”, “What are they complaining about?”. This isn’t unique to immigrants, you’ll probably find examples even within members of the African American community who feel that “I managed to get ahead, why cant the rest of them”. What I’m seeing with all of these attitudes is that there is an underlying inferiority complex. With immigrant Muslims, the inferiority complex comes from the fact that they want to be part of the general American message of “If you work for it, you’ll get what you want” attitude. They are afraid that if they do otherwise, they will not be able to “succeed” (whatever that means to them). Part of the inferiority complex is that they are very much aware of the fact that they are an immigrant and they want to feel American, and are afraid of being classed as part of “lazy, complaining” types if they don’t conform.

    * The inferiority complex has its roots in a bigger issue that is a huge part of the problems that our community faces. That is the fact that every immigrant Muslim (with the exception of the Turks) comes from a country that was colonized at some stage by some European power. They come to the West with that baggage, with the need to escape it, further providing impetus to make sure that they don’t fall into the bottom of the hierarchy again.

    * Another manifestation of this inferiority comes out in the way the Muslim community perceives world events. If ANYTHING happens, first of all conspiracy theories start getting thrown around about America/Jews etc etc. Apparently a community of 1.5 billion people, adherents of a faith that will never be corrupted until the end of time feel that they are powerless against everything, that somehow we have nothing to answer for the state of our communities.

    * As an immigrant Muslim (especially one who by appearance cannot be distinguished as Muslim), I am very much aware of the legacy of America. I happen to believe in some of the tenets of the founding fathers (“certain inalienable rights” etc), even though I know that some elements of the American community haven’t quite benefited in the same way (eg African Americans, but also equally Native Americans). I can’t say that I even understand what it feels like to carry the baggage of 400 years of slavery (simply because I haven’t lived it, not because I don’t want to understand). However, I am optimistic with time that Black Americans will heal the wounds of the past, and I honestly believe that Islam can be a good part of that.

    My thoughts are kind of all over the place, and hopefully some of you are understanding what I’m trying to put forward.

    America has been built on a legacy of slavery, and the effects of that are still living with us today. Anyone who feels that just because the civil rights movement happened its all over is very much mistaken.

    For example, ask any black man what it feels like when they walk into an establishment, for example a real estate office, and how they are treated differently. The person in the establishment may not mean to be racist, may have the best of intentions, but in America, the first perception of the person they will form is that they are black. This is what he has to live with every single day, its not something he can escape by “not wearing hijab/beard/etc etc”.

    In fact, I remember some of my black/indigenous friends chuckling about the irony after Arabs/Muslims in general complaining about racial profiling at airports and so on with comments along the lines of “Now you understand what we’ve been going through”.

    By the way, so that there’s no speculation, by race I am a Turk. I think that I don’t really fit into any category of race, I’m not quite white (as in European), not black, not an Arab/Indian. We have our own issues to deal with, but fortunately we don’t have the baggage of being a colonized/dominated people (however we do have the baggage of having to deal with the fact that we ended up doing some colonizing/dominating of our own).

    I definitely think that the issue Sister Margari has raised should definitely be dealt with. Sometimes I worry about the fact that if this issue were to come out to the general public that it might create a negative image in the minds of potential Black American reverts, but I know that that is being insecure about Islam. Islam is strong enough that it will survive the shortcomings of our community.

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  15. Wow, what an interesting discussion. I have a black American friend who often talks to me about some of these same issues, and I enjoyed reading some more perspectives here.

    Margot, the Marrakesh Mystic
    Margotmystic.wordpress.com

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  16. As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah Sister Margari.

    First, let me say that I appreciate your blog and your body of work. The subject of Race, Islam and Privilege among American Muslims has provided me with an “I know I wasn’t crazy” response. People in our community think I’m the angry Blackamerican male, that race/identity in Islam is not important and that we should just consider ourselves as just Muslims. As a homegrown Blackamerican I’m not in a hurry to forget my culture, which provided me with the opportunity to accept Islam in the first place. Jazakumullah.

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  17. at the end of the day, Muslims (like everyone else) aren’t perfect. They bring to the table their cultural idiosyncrasies, traditions and “baggage.” I for example happen to love South Asian food and culture, and as such have been embraced by members of that community in my area. However, I still know that no matter how much my friends’ parents may love me, the grits will hit the fans if they even sniffed the possibility of having me as a daughter in Law (for the Muslims and non-Muslim ones alike)

    The larger question for me then, it seems is more connected to combating/transforming racist mindsets and sensibilities however subtle. Thanks for talking about this issue.

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  18. Assalamu alaykum,

    This article is what is needed to keep the dialog going. Anyone who post an article on their blog should be clear. As for African American Muslim its our own fault for being in this situation. We tend to look at Muslim from other countries like they speak holy breath just because they know arabic. We always fight the immigrants fight and they never help inour fights. We have gave up on our communities to help them build theirs.

    Also, if an African American come to some Masjids they always try to find another one to sit with them, and when a White American comes they invite them to their homes marry them to their children and the whole 9. They will say do not support this company because they support Israel but the same company supports The NAACP,NCNW,UNCF and more African American programs.

    We need to take the lead in our country the one that we help established!

    AA
    BAK

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  19. Asalamualikum Sister,
    I enjoyed your post. I agreed with somethings you said, and not so much with other things. You are correct there is no such thing as being color blind, when discussing race. That is fighting ignorance with more ignorance. The problem of race inside masjids and within the Ummah is a serious problem. A problem that should be handled and for it to not linger on for the next generation. I my self have seen this problem first hand in my life. I know of Muslim parents who do not accept a daughters marriage to a black muslim. I think this problem can not be solved by theology. I honestly think it is worthless going to elders and saying, this is America we should be all equal. What I think we should do is say THIS IS ISLAM, we ARE equals. This problem is an ‘in house’ problem and should be given an ‘in house’ solution. Racism isn’t anything new. By ‘in house’ I mean, a problem from within the muslims, should be solved by an Islamic solution. 1400 years ago Prophet Muhammad PBUH dealt with racism within the early muslims. Imam Zaid Shakir wrote a great article about this titled The Prophet Muhammad, and Blackness. http://books.google.com/books?id=KohbD4NOzGYC&pg=PA63&lpg=PA63&dq=the+Prophet+Muhammad,+and+Blackness+Zaid+Shakir&source=web&ots=0MMv7msT9u&sig=iyGT3OWdGmq_6h5jFVlT580bPxY#PPA66,M1
    That link is to the article which is from his book Scattered Pictures, which I do recommend for everyone to read. That chapter discusses the the early conflicts between the Arab Muslims and the Black Muslims, and Prophet Muhammad’s PBUH solution to the problem.
    May Allah bless the Ummah.

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  20. Pingback: Muslim Hedonist » Blog Archive » Are we privileged, or fetishized? White converts and white privilege

  21. As-Salaam-Alaikum
    There is a Chineese proverb that states “Bad men exist because good men let them” It’s funny how one begins to identify with anothers pain once there hand has been STEPPED on!! The inferiority complex amongst those who have been colonized is obvious in their attutudes and stated goals. People come to America for the aspirations to live an American life and one of the underlying rules is to love what the ruling class love and hate what the ruling class hates.

    The ruling class does not love African Americans and maintains this master/slave relationship. The Immigrant Brothers and Sisters do not have the strength to combat this illness. Let’s keep the dialogue moving but remember African Americans are some of the best debaters in the world (stereo typing, SMILE) The truth is obvious, if you’re uncomfortable with someone or afraid of getting close to someone might jepordize your status in society, African Americans have been here a long time so we’ll pick it up in milliseconds. Keep it honest keep it real and let the Quran settle the debates.
    MaSalaam

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