At last, after weeks of bringing you doom and gloom in the era of 45, I have some good — nay, great news.
Several bright minds have connected with the aim of empowering and amplifying Muslim voices in America, and I could not be more excited.
This show of support for Muslim artists comes not a moment too soon. In the wake of 45’s “Muslim ban” (YES, that’s what it actually is) and the continual hijacking of the Muslim-American narrative by Republicans and the conservative right, this type of reclamation of the Muslim-American experience is exactly what Muslims and the rest of America needs. While campaigning, even Hillary (and Bill) Clinton seemed to value Muslims only as counter-terrrorism intelligence gatherers. It has seemed for far too long now that both sides of the aisle take their perception of Muslims from the “good,” informant Muslims versus the “bad,” blowing-shit-up Muslims on “Homeland” or “24.”
It’s high time this nation learned that we are so much more than the bullshit main-stream media narrative that typecasts us in our own lives. We are so much more than the falsehoods attributed to us by 45’s administration. We are not a meek and silent minority you can gaslight, misinterpret, and mistreat.
Clockwise from top left, last year’s 2016 Islamic Scholarship Fund film grant recipients: Nijla Mumin, Jude Chehab, Tarek Albaba, and Assia Boundaoui.
We are Nijla Mumin: poet, photographer, Black storyteller, CalArts graduate, award winner.
We are Jude Chehab: international filmmaker, artist, educator, organizer.
We are Tarek Albaba: documentarian, dreamer, achiever, discoverer.
We are Assia Boundaoui: journalist, Emmy award winner, director, truth-teller.
At this moment in Muslim-American history, as child refugees are labeled as threats and Ibtihaj Muhammad is labeled a foreigner, the narrative surrounding Muslims assumes we are anti-American, even when born here, raised here. Despite Muslims being as American as apple pie (the first Muslims were brought here in the 1600s as Black slaves) non-Muslim Americans or Americans who have forgotten their own immigrant roots think of us as foreign invaders, alien asylum seekers who will drain resources and refuse to “assimilate.”
There is a need, now more than ever, for us to take back and control our narrative, and a visual medium speaks more powerfully than any other. With the American Muslim Storytellers Grant, we will not simply be shouting into the cacophony of lies and bigotry that surrounds us. We will not only tell our stories, we will show them. We will illustrate our lives. We will be counteract the negative imagery fabricated around us with our beautiful cultures and our visions of the future.