I saw a few tweets, but it wasn’t until my friend sent it that I listened to Macklemore’s “White Privilege II”. It was pretty cool, but why did I relate to a song about white privilege? I’m a Muslim, hijabi, teenage girl – in most spaces, I serve as a one-person diversity quota.
The discussion about white privilege and ally-ship to the black community is ongoing, but #BlackinMSA shifted the conversation to privileges of non-Black POC. That conversation showed me that if I just made a few substitutions, Macklemore was talking about our mosques.
Pulled into the parking lot, parked it
Zipped up my parka, joined the procession of marchers
In my head like, “Is this awkward?
Should I even be here marching?”
I get invited to a lot of protests. Palestine. Egypt. Syria. But I’ve only ever been aware of one #BlackLivesMatter protest. The shortcoming is my own, I don’t doubt there have been others, but why was it second nature for me to be made aware of some rallies against injustice, but not others? Both causes relevant to the Muslim community; both demonstrations in alignment with the tenets of our faith.
I want to take a stance cause we are not free
And then I thought about it, we are not “we”
Am I in the outside looking in, or am I in the inside looking out?
Is it my place to give my two cents?
Or should I stand on the side and shut my mouth?
“No justice, no peace,” okay, I’m saying that
They’re chanting out, “Black Lives Matter,” but I don’t say it back
Is it okay for me to say? I don’t know, so I watch and stand
As an ally, I’m always questioning my role. What are my boundaries? How do I support without detracting? Moderators of that #BlackLivesMatter protest asked non-Black allies to avoid media, and allow the community to use its own voice. Many claimed hurt, exclusion, relegation; but it wasn’t our place. How can we appropriate a platform for us to support, and use it to amplify our voices? Sure, you understand, yeah, you woke. But I’m an ally; I will make mistakes, I ask my black peers to correct me, and I refer to them because there’s a lot I don’t know.
You speak about equality, but do you really mean it?
Are you marching for freedom, or when it’s convenient?
Our masajid are selectively condemning “violence and rioting”, echoing double standards of media. Our communities resort to the ‘model minority myth’ of “if you just cooperated, if you just weren’t so angry, if you just worked within the system…” We beat the equality drum night and day, but apparently this only extends when it’s convenient.
It seems like we’re more concerned with being called racist
Than we actually are with racism
I’ve heard that silences are action and God knows that I’ve been passive
What if I actually read an article, actually had a dialogue
Actually looked at myself, actually got involved?
What if we actually listened? It is not my place to dismiss your concerns with a line from the Prophet’s ﷺ last sermon. It is not my place to tokenize the example of Bilal (RAD), but overlook the racism and discrimination he faced as well. It is not my place to invalidate your experiences based on the ideologies of our religion. Islam has no place for racism, but that doesn’t mean your experience is any less real.
‘What are you willing to risk? What are you willing to sacrifice to create a more just society?’
My concern with the ‘Muslim image/image of Islam’ shouldn’t overshadow issues we face as a community. I need to recognize “Verily, God does not change condition of the people until they change that which is in their hearts [13:11]” and we are a wounded community. I’m all for outreach and dismissing stereotypes, but I’m more concerned with making progress in our own communities.
Your silence is a luxury . . .
Our silence is a luxury we cannot afford. Our ignorance beyond Bilal (RAD) and sometimes Malcolm X is shameful. Incredible individuals like Sundiata Keita, Usman Dan Fodio, Mansa Musa. Great Islamic civilizations like the Mali Empire, the Songhai Empire, and the Sokoto Caliphate. They are just as integral to our community’s history.
There’s a lot to be said about the song and the lyrics and the artist and music in general, but at the end of the day? Damn Mack, you got it.