What does it mean to be Black, Muslim, and Pakistani? It is a complex world to navigate, and often results in the feeling of being too foreign for each of the three groups because of your incredibly unique experience. It affects ever part of your being imaginable. Your body dysmorphia may grow bigger and bigger because it was never affirmed that you were a beautiful woman, at least not by other Muslims. The Pakistani kids you grew up with tell you how you’re not a part of their country. At the same time, people do not want to pronounce your name the “Black way”, even though that is how you have always pronounced your name. You feel cut off from each community. Here, I outline my experience of what it means to be at the intersection of these three categories.
Being, Black, Muslim, and Pakistani is:
1. When you are in the first grade in Islamic school, and every time the kids see a random Black woman, they ask if she’s your mom.
2. When you’re in eighth grade in Islamic school, and the boys decided to write a list rating how pretty the girls in class are. You don’t make it on the list.
3. When your abusive, biologically Pakistani father shames you for having a Black body, and tells you that you are not allowed to wear your hair out in public, because it is frizzy and uncontrollable.
4. When you are 15 and join a youth group at the masjid. One girl in the group says her school is full of Black and Hispanic people. The leader of the youth group turns to the girl and says she is scared for her.
5. When you stop going to that youth group, and you join a new one, and one girl in your new youth group tells you you look like an Island Girl, thinking it’s a compliment.
6. When some of the girls in your new youth group tell you you’re pretty, but the only other Black girl in the group tells you your natural hair and outfits are just “meh”.
7. When you join your university’s MSA, only to be one of the only Black members who actively attends meetings.
8. When you don’t get invited to Desi weddings, even though you’re Pakistani, too.
9. When you join your MSA’s Big-Little program, and get paired with a Big who says she wanted to be paired with you because you’re Black, and she finally gets someone to talk about hip-hop with, even though you don’t listen to hip-hop.
10. When you confront some of the girls from MSA in private about how their behavior affects you, only for rumors to spread about what a bitch you are.
11. When your university Chaplain gives you samosas, only for him to say “You know what those are, right?”
12. When your Pakistani hijabi therapist always reminds you that you are Black, even though you are 50% Pakistani. In her eyes, you can never really be Pakistani.