We have this strange idea in our community that ignorance is an excuse. We are meant to forgive those who share anti-whatever views, meet them with kindness or educate them. And it’s funny, that it’s often victims or those the most marginalized in our communities that are asked to do this by people with privilege. We are asked to be respectful, while people disrespect or undermine our very existence because they are “ignorant.” We are asked to be silent, as if our experiences don’t have weight and our well-being means less than their feelings.
This is the year I’ve stopped caring about feelings.
The number of times I was told that a person in my Muslim community saying something anti-Black wasn’t a big deal, and that I should educate them, or that they weren’t a bad person and didn’t mean anything by it is nauseating. And for a long time, I listened. I thought it was my place to be the bigger person. Until I realized that a person from a privileged community telling me how to deal with oppression was a way of silencing my experience. That it was another form of oppression. Tell me, for how long have we been meeting racism and micro-aggressions with kindness? If kindness is so effective, why are we still dealing with it?
Claiming ignorance is nothing more than an excuse to be hateful. Not once did someone have to sit me down and teach me to respect white people and white-Arabs. So the idea that you have to learn to respect Black people will not fly in my books. And even more insulting is asking a Black person to educate said oppressor. Like what, I’m supposed to say, “Excuse me miss, can you please not try and undermine my experience since you’re not Black? That would be really nice, but only if it’s not too much trouble.” Because that is what anyone who tells me to educate is doing.
Tell me, for how long have we been meeting racism and micro-aggressions with kindness?
The idea that Black/marginalized people need to advocate respectfully for the right to be treated equally is rooted in oppression. I don’t need to be respectful and I will call you out.
This is the consequence of growing up with privilege. You believe that your experience is the only experience and that you are always allowed to share your opinion. Let me do what your parents should have done and hit you with the truth – your opinion does not matter when it is not your experience. When a Black person is speaking about anti-Blackness in the Muslim community, and your melanin isn’t poppin’, no one wants to hear what your thoughts are, boo. Be an ally, sure, but don’t for a second think it’s okay for you to try and question someone’s experience.
It’s not any marginalized person’s place to respect a privileged person’s feelings, opinions or thoughts when the latter is denying the former’s lived experience. And it’s the epitome of privilege and entitlement that any person can think they should be treated with respect after doing so.
And I think there’s this idea that I write to combat anti-Blackness in the Muslim community. And really, you couldn’t be further from the truth.
The idea that Black/marginalized people need to advocate respectfully for the right to be treated equally is rooted in oppression.
I write for Black girls like me, whose parents send them to an Islamic school to be safe but instead are subjected to anti-Blackness by the very people who own the school. I write for Black girls like me who are told they are too loud when they are just being children. For the girls who are told that they are too dark by the same people who spend hours in the sun hoping to share their complexion. Who contour and try and accentuate their lips, and aspire to Blackness while denying those born with the same features the right to love them. I write for Black girls who are continuously erased from narratives, both in the Muslim and general community.
By all means, read my work—but I don’t write to educate you. If you learn, that’s wonderful—but nothing I write is to combat your ignorance because that is not my responsibility. No one taught me to respect whiteness, or Arabness, and I will not teach you to respect me. I will demand it. I will take it. I will call you out on it, I will make you uncomfortable and none of it has to do with my desire to combat your ignorance. It is my desire to change any sort of power you have in society and challenge your privilege. It is to show young Black girls that they have the power to silence you.
This is why I write.
I don’t care about privileged people’s feelings or if I’ve hurt them, and I won’t be told to. I care about my niece, and how old she will be when she first experiences anti-Blackness. I care about whether it will be in the mosque, like mine was when I was five. And I care that she will have articles like this to read and remember that she is more powerful than the world will ever permit her to believe.
Congratulations, you’ve stopped caring about feelings. Then surely you’ll cease complaining when someone hurts yours—though somehow, I highly doubt that. This entire article was no more than a paean to your own bruised feelings, while simultaneously proclaiming that you don’t care about anyone else’s, and promising that you’ll make whites and Arab Muslims uncomfortable and silence them. Well done on becoming the very thing you oppose.
“When a Black person is speaking about anti-blackness in the Muslim community, and your melanin isn’t poppin’, no one wants to hear what your thoughts are, boo. Be an ally, sure, but don’t for a second think it’s okay for you to try and question someone’s experience.”
So in other words, if you’re accusing Arab Muslims of anti-Black racism, they’re only allowed to speak if they agree with you. Sorry, cupcake, the world doesn’t work that way. Your “experience” directly accuses Arab Muslims of something immoral. It’s a remarkable sort of irony that claims that they’re privileged, and yet it’s you who is demanding the right to accuse them of collective racism while also forbidding them to speak in their own defense.
And yes, eman, I say this as a middle-class white male.You don’t have the right to “silence” anyone, of any race. You don’t have to listen, but everyone has a right to speak.
a). your generalizing by assuming it must be Arab Muslims she is accusing. They are not the only participant of a religion filled with billions of people. Just asking you to widen your view about that.
b). She is not silencing someone else, If you try to understand her perspective here, she is trying to express her grievances encountering racism from other members of her community with out having it tainted or invalidated by someone else. That seems like an honest goal, right? Simply: Here me out before you speak out against me. I don’t know, kind of like in kindergarten when we’re asked to wait turns speaking.
c). She does have an actual concern, one of which I have experienced too. Racism seeps to even the most religious of rooms sometimes. It’s completely reasonable for her as a muslim women, in a religion where “you are not a true believer if you do not want for yourself, what you want for your brother” to be baffled by such contradictory actions. Everyone wants to be accepted and not slighted against, so why pass on hate? She should want to challenge that notion fully. I applaud her. She is not trying to silence anyone, but I implore you to read the article again with one thought in mind: That she is not trying to prohibit anyone, but elevate and validate her own experience, thought, and voice without anyone else trying to silence that. A silencing that has it roots deep in history and tradition amongst minorities, and women, that their issues are never really issues, just not important. What she is fighting against is the spreading of such ill behavior and the constant invalidation of it.
This is symptomathical for a deep divide between Blackness and Muslim-ness and it just doesnt help when black Muslims demand muslims to completely assimilate into blackness. I#ll give you an example:
A few weeks ago our muslim students group did a series of lectures at the university that ended with a poetry slam. A black muslim woman from Somalia talked about racism and her personal experiences with white supremacy. And she completely failed to capture the attention of the 90% muslim audience.
Because she channelled her “muslim” experience completely into her black experience. For her being a Muslim was defined by being the victim of white supremacy and racism.
This is a fundamental misunderstanding about the essence of “Islam”.
While blackness is a condition solely defined by discrimination and violence, an experience ex negativo whiteness, being a muslim has nothing (!!) to do with whiteness. To say anything else is blank atheism and then you cannot be a muslim anymore. At most a “cultural muslim” whose relation to islam is similar as Richard Spencers to Christianity.
Being a muslims means submitting to the one true god and his messengers. What other people say & do to you is completely unimportant for this credo.
To be more concrete: Being a muslim doesnt mean being othered by someone, but *othering someone as not following gods true religion* !!! This is FUNDAMENTAL !!!
At this point the experiences of being black and being muslim unreconcilably differ !
Muslims cultural memory (and cultural memory is shaping ones view of the recent and the future) is one of victory, not humiliation: Syria, Anatolia, India, Horn of Africa, Spain…
European muslims do suffer from racism, but thats not what defines them.
Intersectionality is real phenomenon. She never, I never, equated whiteness with Islam. We all know the purpose of submitting here. Whats happening is the blurring of lines between racism and religious spaces. The Somali women who was talking about her encounters with racism in a space filled with muslims seems appropriate. You say it missed 90% of the audience, coming from your perspective because you probably assume that no one in the room has been affected by it. Your painting and generalizing based on your perspective. That in itself is the invalidation that I discussed earlier. That her story, concerns, are not strong enough to hit critical mass in audience, especially filled with muslims, who should try and at least be empathetic to each other. You say Islam is not about being “othered” but let’s be real, they way we treat anyone is in direct correlation of our faith and patience. Instead of looking at the somali women and seeing that she missed the audience, maybe she only just missed you (you don’t know how it affects others, sharing her experience can truly enlighten someone else in that room), think outside of your perspective and try to understand how it not only affects her as a black women, but as a muslim. Some people DO NOT have the privilege of separating the two, PLEASE internalize that. I hear everything your saying and completely get where your coming from, now I am asking you to please step out of your own narrative and try to see through someone else’s perspective.
I love this
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