My identities as being a Black Muslim woman who is also African come in one. I experience discrimination in many unique ways: my skin colour, my gender, my religion and being African. Often, the notion of have these identities tend to equate to me being a ‘thug’ (black), a ‘terrorist’ (Muslim), ‘poor’ (African) and oppressed (woman). But I’m here to say that this is not the case and I would not have it any other way. This is why I always emphasise on the importance of intersectional activism.
Naturally, having these intersections make me an activist. I fight for Black people and for women, for Muslims and for Africans. I guess you could say I’m quite strong.
Pay attention to those who are being excluded.
It is vital to pay attention and listen to those whose voices often go unheard or are dismissed. I am very skilled in this because when I am fighting for one part of my identity – often the other 3 go dismissed.
Perfect example: the Black Lives Matter movement. Certain parts of the Muslim community do not acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement because it’s a ‘race’ issue, not a religion issue. As if black Muslims are not being shot by police too, such as Yassin Mohammed and Amadou Diallo. Some bring up ‘what about Palestine?’ yet fail to acknowledge the suffering of Afro-Palestinians. Others are excluding disabled black people from the Black Lives Matter movement as we are less likely to hear their stories.
My identities are just as important – they come as one.
My Blackness does not exclude my ‘Muslimness’ or my ‘Africaness’ or my ‘womanhood’. They matter just as much as each other.
A perfect example of this would be the unfortunate killing of Shukri Abdi, which has prompted conversations on social media when it comes to #BlackLivesMatter. Shukri was an immigrant from Somalia who was murdered in Manchester, England and she had the same identities as me – Black, Muslim, African and a girl. Shukri’s death shook the Internet as it really exposed the lack of intersectional activism that some people have. Some ignored her death because of her Muslim identity or claimed that she’s Somali and not Black.
Either way, I am not part of the Somali community so I cannot fully comment on her identity. Obviously, not all Black people in the UK are excluding her death but just a select few. I just wanted to re-emphasise the importance of why ALL Black Lives Matter! #JusticeforShukriAbdi
Mental health matters too.
Another intersection is mental health and ability. Yassin Mohammed was murdered by police in the US. He was a Sudanese immigrant with mental health issues. Another death that was swept under the rug until it picked up on Twitter. Why is that?
Certain demographics fail to acknowledge intersections such as mental health and his immigrant identity, similar to Shukri’s. Perhaps he was not ‘Black’ enough because he had Sudanese descent or because he was a Muslim? Yassin’s and Shukri’s murders are just as important to the Black Lives Matter movement. Regardless of their Muslim or immigrant identity, we must say their names too. Their lives mattered.
#BlackLivesMatter is global.
Following the murder of George Floyd, protests literally sparked across the globe with many black women leading at the forefront. Two 18 year old women organised the London protests. Assa Traoré in France lead the #BlackLivesMatter movement for her brother Adama Traoré. He was murdered and many other lives taken from state sanctioned violence.
These international protests are not significantly only for George Floyd or for Breonna Taylor or for Tony McDade, but for the countless black people murdered daily due to this state sanctioned violence. It highlights how anti-blackness is perpetuated all over the globe. It also puts into perspective how a new global order could potentially occur – how things can change and how we can be the change.
“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” – Audre Lorde
Finally, I just wanted to leave this here and just want to remind people to always take an intersectional approach to activism. Because ALL Black Lives Matter around the world.
Here’s how you can help:
- If you cannot donate – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCgLa25fDHM , sign petitions, keep the conversations going!
Read more about anit-racism here.