The cover of the May 2017 issue of Essence magazine honors 12 women who are trailblazers and pioneers for equal rights and intersectionality. The cover features our favorite and honorary sister Linda Sarsour, along with #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign, TV’s leading woman Shonda Rhimes, and many more. Sarsour is a part of the #Woke100 list along with other female creators, journalists, educators, and politicians who practice when they preach social activism.
However, there is one thing missing from the cover: Black Muslim women activists. Where is Su’ad Abdul Khabeer, Ilyasah Shabazz, Blair Imani, and others? Why weren’t black Muslim women activists on the cover or even on the list? For a magazine with a target audience of mainly Black women, why hasn’t Essence figured that one out by now?
There is nothing wrong with Sarsour on the cover. Intersectionality is important to consider. However, to be the only Muslim, who happens to be Arab, on the cover of that magazine reinforces the idea that when there’s Muslims, nine times out of 10 it has to be Arab and when there’s an Arab, nine times out of 10, they must be Muslim. According to a study done by Pew Research, 23% of American Muslims are Black and Arab Muslims (classified as “other”) make up 19% of the American Muslim population.
The positive outcomes of Sarsour on the cover is that it promotes intersectionality and that she’s an ally. You don’t only have to be Black to stand up for social and racial injustices. Overall, you don’t only have to be Black to be woke.
You can check out the full list of the #Woke100 women here or in newsstands now.