Black History Month is a much-needed insight into an often-underrepresented segment of Western and Asia societies.
AbouIslam reached out to four Black British Muslims to share their thoughts and insights on being a Black Muslim in the UK and reflections on a Black Muslim Festival, designed to showcase Black Muslim identities on-line.
AboutIslam: Do you feel being black and Muslim puts you at a disadvantage, from non-Muslims and/or Muslims, in society? If so, why.
Sheikh Michael Mumisa: “I became a Black person when I came to the UK. I had the privilege of growing in a part of the world where I was surrounded by Black people, in every profession, every sphere, and every aspect of life. I have never felt that I need validation from any other racial group, nor have I ever seen my Blackness as a disadvantage. It is my superpower because it gives me a third eye by which to analyze racist societies and communities. I have no time for racist ‘Muslim’ communities and individuals in Britain. They are not my people or my community. Who would want to be part of racist communities?”
OA: “I don’t feel being Muslim puts me at a disadvantage as much as being black. The racism and prejudice against non-whites are well documented.
Personally, I feel being black can be a disadvantage professionally as I find I always have to prove myself to people.
Many times, I have looked around a meeting I’m in, of about 20 people and I’m the only black person there. A colleague once asked me how I managed to get to the managerial level! I’m also sure having a Muslim name can be a disadvantage when applying for jobs though less so nowadays than before. CVs have been known to be overlooked based on the name on top of the CV rather than the content”
Monir EA: “Definitely in my younger days. Lots of racism in British Society. Have not really experienced racism in the Muslim Community or may be oblivious to it, but definitely exists.“
Surajudeen Babatunde Raji: “Being black and Muslim defines me entirely. The way I think, my family and social relationships, my convictions, and even my humor have a direct or indirect connection to my being black and Muslim. I do not feel like I am overtly put at a disadvantage as a result. Perhaps my positive personality and self-belief contribute to that. If anything, my being black is usually seen first before my being Muslim. Hence, any prejudice is usually racial. Unfortunately, this transcends into some of my relationships with non-black Muslims.
I live in a predominantly Pakistani-Muslim area. Great Muslim community Masha Allah. But black Muslims are a noticeable minority. Some of the prejudice my family and I experience is subtle but palpable. To explain it, my son came back from school one day and told me his Pakistani Muslim classmate told him he could not be a Muslim because he was not Pakistani or Arab. Of course, such beliefs are down to a lack of awareness and education. But it is an issue regardless.”
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