People love to act like Anti-blackness doesn’t exist in the Muslim community, but it does. I’ve seen it and heard it with my own eyes from people who I went secondary school with, people from university, and even my own family members sad to say. We all love to say racism doesn’t exist in Islam and recite a few passages from the Quran: An Arab is not better than a Non-Arab (…) or that Bilal R.A. one of our prophet’s dearest companion, a freed slave and the person who used to recite the call to prayer was black, but how many of us actually believe in that? When we are called out on our racism, we deny it and use Bilal R.A as the token Muslim black guy to justify our attitudes of racism, discrimination and prejudice, or we say that we ourselves are people of colour or a religious minority, therefore we cannot be racist nor discriminatory nor prejudice towards another group of people. That is bullshit.
Growing up, I’ve heard prejudice and discriminatory views projected towards Black people, both Black Muslims and Black non-Muslims, or even my own race by other Muslims, from people who I’ve called my friends. When it comes to Islamic events at universities or mosques, biryani amongst other South Asian dishes are always served. Where is the bariis, canjeero, jollof, jerk chicken, rice and peas at please?
Racism in the Muslim community is real. There is this whole idea reiterated that we can talk to Black people, perhaps be friends with them (God forbid our families see us walking down the road with a Black person), maybe even give them dawah and thus be the one to show them Islam, but then when you want to invite them to your house, or even marry one of them, then no, it’s not allowed.
These attitudes, feelings and ideologies of anti-Blackness have deep colonial and imperialist roots, which have passed down from generation to generation despite us living in a post-colonial era, supposedly. And when I speak of the colonial era, I am not speaking of explicitly the Britsh, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Italian empires, I am speaking of the Arab empire as well.
Stereotypes surrounding the Black womam as an ‘angry woman’ or the Black man as a ‘thug’ still exist in the contemporary. The media have a significant hand in constructing the Black identity, which in turn affects consumer’s and viewer’s perceptions surrounding blackness.
We ourselves need to question what we see and hear, and what we have seen and heard.