I Am Black.
My ancestors were captured and enslaved. They were ridiculed and abused. They were falsely accused and lynched. They were treated inhumanely and many of them planted seeds of their trauma into the generations which followed.
I am a firm believer that impact of slavery, and the systematic racism that followed, continues to negatively affect the descendants of the enslaved. I cry when I hear, read, or see accounts of some of the horrors of Being Black. I cry to know that not even babies were immune from despicable treatment.
As much as my heart aches for the past and present oppression of the Black community, I can also realize the privilege within my own Black experiences.
It is my privilege that my grandparents – and many of their siblings – had the resources to relocate from South Carolina to Pennsylvania prior to my mother being born. It is my privilege that my mother had a support systems of aunts and uncles – even if it was just a visit to get out of the house. It is my privilege to have a childhood that was never void of love.
Growing up being able to recognize and experience LOVE as a child should not be a privilege. However, if you speak to enough people, you will find that knowing love and feeling loved is not always guaranteed. One of my most significant privilege is knowing love. Another is having faith.
I Am Muslim
I grew up Christian and attending a Baptist church. We weren’t the go the church everyday type of family, but we went most Sunday, some Saturdays for the youth programs, and some days for chorus rehearsal. For me, my favorite part about church was the music (and how we sometimes ate together afterwards).
When I was pretty young, my grandfather asked me what I learned in church after returning home one Sunday. I had no idea – if it wasn’t music, I didn’t really care. The question followed me for a long time.
Regardless of what I thought about church, I felt that my Faith was strong. There was something about my family that taught me to have Faith. When it came to religion, I remember thinking, “What I Believe doesn’t change the Truth!”
In my hardship with domestic violence, I started learning about Islam. I was open-minded, raised with love, and fell in love with Islam. It took me many, many years to practice, but now it is obvious to most people who see me that I am Muslim.
Being Muslim is another part of my identity that many people have been taught to hate. It is a too common practice for Muslims across the world to be killed, tortured, falsely imprisoned, or forced to live in deplorable conditions.
And just like Black people were made the “enemy” in America, Muslims have become a “worldwide enemy”. When people are convinced the “enemy” is being destroyed, it’s easier to accept the mistreatment. I have cried many tears of sorrow in regard to oppression of the Muslim Community. I have also found privilege.
It is a privilege to have a non Muslim family that didn’t blink an eye about me accepting Islam. Some reverts to Islam are never accepted by their biological family. Some families are so consumed by the hate that has been instilled in them that they choose hate over family. But I had a foundation of love and that makes all the difference .
It is a privilege to be fulfilled by my religion – there is always more to learn and to be comforted by. It is a privilege that my religion shows that there are so many ways to worship God and to be pleasing to Him. It is a privilege to worship a Forgiving God. It is a privilege to be inspired to be better, to do better. My Faith is my most needed privilege.
I Am A Black, Muslim Woman
When I step out my door and into any room, being a Black, Muslim Woman is very evident. Of all things I identify as, these three are front and center. As many difficulties and hardships that each identity can present, the love, strength and beauty of them all is to what I hold on. When I explore my identity, it is easier to see the love, strength, and beauty that resides in me.
If it is safe for you, grab a notebook [get a Not Mad. Motivated. Notebook here], a pen or pencil, and explore the aspect of your identity that most impact you. How can you be empowered how you identify? Check out the identity wheel above, or find one online. Can you find “privilege” in identities that have been historically oppressed? Share what you would like in the comments, tag us on Facebook or Instagram with #NotMadMotivatedLife, or email us your comments or feelings about exploring identity.