You know when you read something and by the end of it, you have to clap for the author even though they can’t see you just as a show of sheer appreciation. That was me yesterday reading Eman Idil’s status addressing the outrage on the lack of Black Muslims nominations for the Muslim Awards of Excellence Gala taking place in Toronto.
For those who don’t know about Eman, she is a CBC news journalist based in Toronto, Writer for Teen Vogue and Allure Magazine, Fashion Designer and Multimedia editor at MuslimGirl.
Below is her Facebook status shared with her permission.
“Any Muslim org that says there were no qualified Black Muslim speakers/leaders is lying. They either a) don’t know black Muslims (because their mosque is segregated) or b) they are complacent in the erasure of Black Muslims.”
At 21 I sat at a table with the first female prime minister of Canada and wrote a vision for Canada in the next 150 years.
At 22 I did an undercover interview with ISIS fighters to understand how they radicalised and recruit young North American girls into their death cult.
At 23 I launched a business that creates employment opportunities for women from marginalised community.
At 24 I was accepted into five fashion weeks, landed my dream job at CBC, became an editor at Muslim Girl, wrote articles for numerous publications that went viral… and really I could keep going, but I don’t need to.
When the Muslim community continuously chooses to celebrate non-black Muslim youth for their *aspirations* and ignore black Muslim youth for their actual achievements…you start to wonder whether or not you can trust the people you pray beside.
Sometimes I laugh at the erasure at these awards ceremonies. Like, y’all want an award for doing the organising in your 40’s that I did in the 8th grade? K. Have fun being mediocre lol.
My *awards* are the phone calls I get from black Muslims at Islamic schools who are dealing with racism from their teachers and want to know how to navigate the systems of oppression that were created to keep them at a disadvantage. My greatest accomplishment was this year when a handful of black Muslims from Regina called to tell me that a Syrian student at their Islamic school was referring to them as “illiterate niggers” and the school refused to do anything substantial.
The fact that these kids knew I would support them endlessly, that I would make sure they were heard is the reason I do what I do.
To non-black Muslims, just remember this: there is a reason that the greatest Muslim figures in North American history are black Muslims. Malcolm X, Mohammed Ali, Ilhan Omar, Ibtijah Muhammed, Malika Bilal…all made history. And they all did it while dealing with your anti-blackness. You guys literally have gala’s to celebrate mediocrity and aspirations…meanwhile, we change history.
(also please don’t claim us when we’re famous because wallahiiiii we aren’t checking for you. I literally do what I do so black Muslim kids know they are more powerful than you and have a community behind them).
I didn’t write to brag. My accomplishments are through Allah SWT, and I’m grateful. I just wanted to point out how anytime a Muslim org says there were no qualified black Muslims, it’s a lie.
This is not about recognition of work or success. It’s about recognising implicit biases in whose work we choose to value. Any Muslim org that says there were no qualified Black Muslim speakers/leaders is lying. They either a) don’t know black Muslims (because their mosque is segregated) or b) they are complacent in the erasure of Black Muslims.
There have been so many times I’ve watched sheikhs or “leaders” in the Muslim community speak to media about Islamophobia….meanwhile, they are the exact same people perpetuating anti-black violence in Islamic schools and mosques. Your hypocrisy has not once gone unnoticed.
And this isn’t new. Anti-black sentiments in Muslim spaces are a direct consequence of internalised self-hatred, from colonial legacies. I watched my parents turn the other cheek countless times, out of survival. They came to Canada from their native countries and found a community where they could.
But this generation of Black Muslims is different.
We’ve watched the erasure of African American Muslims, witnessed the whitewashing of the history of Islam in North America and have been told we are “one Ummah” by the same people who use words like Abeed, and tell their daughters to stay out of the sun so they do not get darker.
Anti-blackness in the Muslim community is not new, but what has changed is how the Black Muslims of my generation are challenging it.
If you are complacent in anti-black racism in Islamic spaces, you will be unmosqued. This I promise you.
Shared with permission from Eman Idil Bare.