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tv   Muslim Men and Women Discuss Living in the U.S.  CSPAN  August 24, 2017 5:34am-7:01am EDT

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i made a political decision in 1998 to change parties and became a republican. conversationy a with jeff moss did >> there were no jobs in security for any of us. this is really a hobby. as the internet grew and there were jobs, there was money at risk. hacker started getting jobs doing security. watch on c-span and listen using the free hispanic radio app. announcer: a panel at the brooklyn historical society discussed their experiences as american muslims and how to encourage interreligious dialogue. this is an hour and a half. [applause]
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>> thank you so much. if you could join me in welcoming our panelists to the stage. [applause] my name is khalid latif. i will be moderating the discussion for tonight, which i think is a nice way for the brooklyn historical society to tell me that i need to not talk so much tonight and let other people talk. we have an amazing lineup here. i'm going to run through their bios really quickly. to give you insight as to the structure of the night, we are going to have some questions for the panelists for about 45 minutes or so.
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thereafter, we will open it up to you all to engage in discussion and q&a with the panelists for another 15 or 20 minutes before we wrap up the event. if you feel like you are hearing something you want to hear more on, if you have questions on, feel free to jot notes to yourself, because we will have ample opportunity at the end of the evening to be able to engage in question and answers. so we have four amazing people with us here tonight. immediately to my left is bim adewunmi, who is an british journalist based in new york. a senior culture writer for buzz feed news, a columnist for the guardian, and an essayist who was recently published in "the good immigrant." ,ext there is ramzi kassem press or of law at the city university of new york where he directs the noncitizen rights clinic. prisoners of
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various nationalities held at guantanamo bay and other detention facilities worldwide. himself in the crosshairs of this sprawling u.s. security state as well as immigrants and asylum seekers. inore joining the faculty 2009, he taught at yell and fordham. his interests include the policy responses to the september 11 attacks and other real or perceived national security crises, the rights of minorities and noncitizens, and international humanitarian law. , an to him is nzinga knight award-winning new york-based fashion designer and educator and an entrepreneur whose high-end modest fashion designs have drawn plays for their blend of traditional and cosmopolitan sensibilities. she studied fashion design and fine arts at the pratt institute school of design. she launched her first capsule collection in 2009. in 2014, she became the first american muslim hijabi featured
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as a contestant on the emmy award-winning design competition "project runway." she is also a lover of food and dining. her search for synchrony between her islamic faith and festive caribbean culture led her to create the drink brooklyn bruise floral in 2015, the first in a line of premium adult nonalcoholic beverages. bayoumiwe have moustafa , the author of the critically acclaimed "how does it feel to be a problem? being young and arab in america." it won the american book award -- the arab american book award for nonfiction. his latest book, "this muslim american life: dispatches from the war on terror," was chosen as the best book of 2015 by the progressive magazine and was also awarded the arab-american book award for nonfiction. he is also a columnist for the guardian. his writing has appeared in many national and international publications.
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yes been featured in the wall street journal, cnn, npr, and many other media outlets. he is also currently in the faculty, department of english at brooklyn college. join me in living -- giving a quick round to our panelists. [applause] off the questions, for anybody, feel free to chime in. if you would like to answer. biaseda lot of incidents, hate crimes against muslims throughout the united states and other parts of the world. one most recently and probably more devastating to people here, local to the united states, was the murder of a 17-year-old black muslim girl named nabra. what do you think would be important for people who are not
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muslim to understand at a time like this, especially in light of some of the things we're seeing right now? [laughter] nott is good because i do think about what other people need to know, typically. this is a question that -- you know, in prepping for this i thought -- i typically don't think too much about what other people should need to know, necessarily. i kind of think in more protective measures about the community. the community, kind of just thinking about -- whether it is learning martial arts and self protection, that sort of thing. just being tighter as a community. with sisteruation --ra, may she rest in these
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i don't know. i guess it was concluded it was a hate crime, but i don't always think every time a muslim is , just becausebody she were a good job -- she wore ijab that that means, i hate this person, let me kill this person. i don't know the full aspect of what happened, so i cannot speak too much on that. i think the typical things you would want someone to know if they are being prejudiced against another group or if they have hate in her heart is that, you know, do not take out your anger on a situation that has happened, you know, at the hands of someone you do not know. the person who you are making a victim does not know. don't take it out on just a random person.
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i think that is a basic thing. obviously, generalizations hurt people. prejudice, racism, all of that, hurt people. i kind of feel like it is just the same thing i would want anyone who is being racist or xenophobic -- i'm not sure if we developed a word for somebody who hates somebody because of their religion. what is that word? in that case, those generalizations, just trying to take that out on a person, going vigilante, is not the answer, clearly. >> if i might add a little bit, i think what happened to sister nabra nzinga said. what happened to our sister, beginning with the presidential campaign in 2016, and all of the anti-muslim rhetoric.
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what happened to her was not the first and those in new york city who were gunned down over the summer. there were sisters in brooklyn who were assaulted who have had their hijabs ripped off. on a regular basis. there was even a sister who wore the hijab who was set on fire in manhattan. i think it shows the official government policy and rhetoric really enables that extent of violence and gives permission to private actors to act on the prejudices and biases and racism. what you have in new york city, for example, and officially sanctioned police surveillance program targeting muslims. that gives permission to private actors to engage in that sort of
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conduct against muslims. when you look at what the u.s. government is doing domestically and overseas to muslim identified communities highway exclusion, predatory prosecution, all the way going up to elimination by drone strike of occupation, invasion, war, that always gives permission because all of these policies seem to be targeting muslim identified communities in society. so i think in very real and concrete ways, what are local,
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state, municipal, and federal government does domestically and overseas, it is rhetoric when he -- it comes to muslims is a large part of why we are seeing these anti-muslim incidents at the hands of private actors. >> let me add a little bit to it if i may. this is going to take forever, isn't it? i do feel it is a shame that we have to begin with a question like this. i completely understand it. but i think it is really a shame because there is more to muslim american life than hatred. and there is more to it than the violence, and there is more to it than the suspicion. but it is also very, very true -- i know we're going to get through a lot of other stuff. but is also very, very true muslim americans are extremely vulnerable and extremely scared, many of them. and for legitimate reasons as we've just been hearing from other panelists. and i think what is really important to understand is that in the general culture, it seems like muslim americans have to fight for recognition that they are paying counts, and that seems extremely unfair to me. so we have an example of this, not only in the case with naeva, was this a hate crime, was it not a hate crime -- also the women in north carolina with the students to years ago. that quickly became, oh, that was a parking dispute. and this, the official narrative became very quickly and it was also some kind of altercation in the traffic, against this. as of hatred against somebody on the basis of who they are has no bearing also on traffic disputes
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or on parking disputes. it is as if we segment out the pain and the threat that have attached to muslim american bodies and muslim bodies these days. i'm sure that nobody in this audience feels that way, but i feel like this is something that the question is asked, which -- what should the general public sort of take away from this? it seems to me to beaware, that there is a level of acknowledgment of muslim pain that i think is actually absent from our general culture today. >> so just to add to that as well, i think everything everyone has said has been spot on, but i also think when it comes to muslims and muslim life, i think we also are somewhat limited in who we imagine only think about muslims. i know there was a lot of conversation around the sister ad the fact that she was
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black muslim woman -- which means something very different in the general imagination, but also in general, i think if we are to look at muslim lives, then we must look at them intersectionally. i'm a muslim black woman who does not wear a hijab. i think that the way i move through the world is very different from how other black muslim women in another part of the country who does wear hijab -- our experiences are very similar but different. i'm not processed immediately as a muslim. but naeva and her friends would be because they wore hijabs. we are looking at multiple identities colliding in so many ways, and it would behoove the general population to think wider, that we are not one monolithic block, and that we look very different, and we live very different lives, even
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within the same group setting that we all seem to be put into. that is something people need to consider. i know that there were lots of people talking very often on twitter, which is probably a waste of my time. but sometimes they are good conversations. there was one black muslim woman who just said, some of you speaking right now have no idea what it is like to walk in the world as a black muslim woman. that kind of shut a good number of people up. because there was a lot of conjecture. you were saying for the attack ed because they were muslim? obvious conversations, historically marginalized groups, or not new. for me, i kind of go back to immediately post-9/11 when i was living in london. a friend of mine who is a hijabi -- she was not at the time, but she said she felt very unsafe and she felt everyone is looking at her and she felt she was
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being followed and so on. i nodded and was completely sympathetic because i understood what she was saying, but i could not help to say to her, oh, my god, that is my life as a black person. this is another layer of nonsense, on, you know, this kind of layer cake of nonsense. i think that is something we need to be thinking about all the time, that there are multiple identities colliding and living quite happily until they are disrupted by outside forces. that is something for us to be thinking about as well. nzinga knight: i think even in her case, the narrative cap -- kept changing or even evolving about her identity, even. i mean, when i first spoke to her, i did not know she was black. i did not read her that way right away. what happens with a lot of black people, anyway. and, you know, who knows how she identified me. she was egyptian.
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her father spoke with egyptian accent. he was an egyptian man, it could have been -- if you're saying there is a bias involved, it could've been xenophobia. it could have been, you know, her being black. that is the way she identified or we identified her as. it could have been her religion. it could have been none of that. it could've been the altercation that happened previously with the boys and road rage. i don't know. but any kind of hate and bias is just crazy and wrong. you know? yeah. i really got what you were saying earlier about that thing of, the aspect of putting more value on when a crime is done against a muslim. and i feel like, the complicated situation, because we hear so
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much in the news about terrorism and of course every time a muslim is the perpetrator of the crime, it is automatically assumed he is linked -- somehow bound to be linked to this terrorist legion right away. and by the time, you know, by the time things are even -- stories in the news are not even developed or concluded. they concluded this person was really a terrorist. it was in the news cycle. but because that is there so much, and then whenever a white person commits a crime, it's not even linked to anything at all. the person is probably crazy, mentally ill. it was not linked to any affiliation of anything. there is nothing to research into. odd thing, even if it
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happens over and over again. the idea is that when a muslim is killed at the hands of someone who had some kind of hate or felt like they were doing it on behalf of something political -- because i think if you are doing a hate crime in this form, there is something to do with politics, terrorism to get back at because of some larger thing that happened. then it is like, ok, maybe it is seem like this person -- you know, it is kind of like collateral damage or something. yeah. >> i think we can pull a lot of different frames out of all of these responses tied to institutional policy, political politics, media narrative, shapes for the population what they perceive muslims to be.
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and i know for me when of the more frustrating -- not frustrating, but a regular question i get asked by media, by audiences is what do muslims think, as if muslims are this one homogenous body that every single one thinks exactly the same and is seen as the same thing with the same experiences. and both within the muslim community and outside of it, there tends to be this sweeping generalization of who a muslim is, and then in turn, what we understand islam to be. so how would you describe just the muslim community here in new york or more broadly the united states -- you know, we are coming together to engage the question of who is a muslim? what would we really say as a response to that? how would you answer that? >> let me start this one, if you don't mind.
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i think that islam in the united is one of the interesting things. it seems if we study the history of muslims in the united states, we study the history of the united states in a really interesting fashion. in the contemporary moment, the muslim american population is only perhaps 1% of the population around the country. around that. they come from 77 different countries of origin, which makes it one of the most pluralistic if not the most pluralistic community of religious devotion in the country. it has something to say, in other words, about a kind of multiculturalism in the united states today. its origins go all the way back -- and the united states go all the way back before the united states. i am sure people are familiar with it, but there is a great history in this country around this time in america. there were sizable numbers of people who had been slaves from africa who came to the united
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states in chains and then were forced to work who themselves were muslim in faith and belief. their stories are incredible stories that really should become part of our curriculum, not just teaching about what slavery was in this country and and more and more complex fashion but also teaching the history of enslavement in the united states. you can look at the history of the black liberation struggle in very interesting ways of course through a muslim lens. you can look at the history of american imperialism through the history of the muslim lens as well. and i don't say this to say you should be looking at these things in an exclusionary way. i say we should be looking at our own american history from multiple vantage points, a million different groups. what would lgbt history of the united states look like alongside a really rich muslim american history at the same time? and from every different group, rather than having a kind of
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singularly -- singular narrative that drives the one story of the country forward, that sees it as a story that really begins in europe. and that's not really what this country ever was, if you are looking at its foundations, if you're looking at its origins, if you are looking at its complexities. i think that would do a lot to displace this idea that somehow islam and the united states begins on september 12, 2001. bim adewunmi: i mean, i am a -- i am a foreigner and a foreign land, so i have not had like virtue of the nature of the kind of work that i do to kind of find a community of my own that is a larger community. my experience of being a muslim -- i've been a muslim all my life. i was literally -- i went to nyu
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last week, towards the end of ramadan. that was the first time i had been in a room with more than 50 muslims in maybe a decade. because i had found that i -- it's very odd. i grew up across europe and africa. i was born in london, we moved to nigeria. and then we zigzagged for a few years, the way of many immigrant families. i always found myself more comfortable going to school in nigeria than in the u.k. that for me was due to issues of representation. we talk a very good game about the global story how we are all equal and all the same. because we are human beings, there are very many interpersonal issues. i never felt comfortable going to the mosque in the u.k. not very -- i had a couple of bad experiences that made me go, i will just pray at home. it's fine.
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and going to the nyu event, and looking around the room and seeing so many people, just looking at every shade, every color, all these languages that were coming up, and people had all these histories, and you know, second-generation, third-generation people, and looking at that and doing, i'm 16 months into living in this country. i felt very, very emotional just kind of sitting there and having all of these people, all kinds of muslims. and that to me felt like a really kind of, that would be a wonderful snapshot when we are talking about islam in america. i think often about the fact that for many americans of this generation and a couple others, the first muslim they knew was probably a black man. it was probably muhammad ali. i think about how we have this
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idea of muslims as, you know, brown. for the longest time, muslims in the american imagination were black. and because of september 11, 2001, and the post-9/11 world, suddenly every muslim was brown. they were -- it kind of erased and pushed aside a lot of other stories that were going on, even in the discussion of the muslim ban. in the first iteration, people were talking about it's going to ruin all these people's lives. no one seemed to focus on the african countries that were listed in there. everyone is talking about iran obviously because it's iran, but now we are talking about sudan, which is huge. thinking, cap -- kept
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there was a reporter who said, is there anything about the fact that 50% of countries on that list are african countries? these are black muslims. we can't separate the two. so i think a lot about -- i'm kind of obsessed with this idea of representation because it's something that i'm constantly in my work, i'm always looking at representation. i'm looking at the images and the stories that are told and how we are socializing to believing things about certain groups. i'm coming at it because i'm a black person, i am always thinking about what happens when you add layers onto black identity. and that is something i am always thinking on. sitting in that room that day, eating a delicious halal lasagna, i was looking around the room and realizing this is something that more of us should be talking about within ourselves. because again, i can think, i don't really care what people think to a certain extent. we should talk about this more within our own groups, our own spaces. and then that would extend as
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well to other places. is my view. >> i have a quick thing to add. the organization i work with at the law school, we go into a lot of different communities. -- muslim communities. new york city and the larger tri-state area and even beyond. since 2009 we've done literally hundreds of workshops in different muslim communities. and the diversity of just new york city's muslim community really reflects diversity of the muslim community globally. so you know we have gone into mosques in staten island as well as west african, north african communities, predominantly yemeni communities and locally here in brooklyn. every variety shade you can think of, and also socioeconomically, many muslims in new york city are working class. they are driving cabs, they are pushcart vendors, selling coffee on the street. some are doctors. you have muslim professionals.
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you have mipsters, muslim hipsters. and all of these communities congregate in different ways and exhibit different degrees of religiosity. but the one fundamental fact that i think is very important to remember is along those lines are saying there is this reflective association of muslims with foreigners, with others. when the fundamental historical reality, which mustapha was pointing to earlier, islam has been in the united states for us long as the united states has existed, even longer. and even today, one out of three muslims is an african-american muslim. there's a very long history of american islam in that community specifically. there are many lessons to be drawn from that community, the african-american muslim community that can be of great value and have been of great value recently in times of crisis and targeting, for predominantly immigrant islam -- immigrant muslim communities.
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>> islam has been the country a lot longer than donald trump's family has. [laughter] nzinga knight: so for my view -- the question was who is muslim? for me, growing up, i've existed -- i have always existed in a variety of different communities. i'm from brooklyn. and the mosque that i consider my home mosque has been around since the late 1950's. it is the mosque that was founded by malcolm x. and you know, started out in the nation of islam. when mohammed died, he took over than they meet the shift, which was mohammed to islam. but we definitely carry on a lot of the good aspects, a lot of the good things, some of the good training and teaching that were in the nation of islam. some people have very stringent diets still. we call them our pioneers who are like 60 and up.
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a lot of them have a diet that consists of one meal a day or two meals a day, something that they learned in the nation of islam. you know, we practice -- martial arts is a very big part of our community. there's a dojo in my mosque, a dojo in the mosque down the block, it is a big part of black muslim culture that came from that history. we practice orthodox islam. we pray five times a day. most people are covered. our culture is very much like a african american and caribbean culture. when it's time to celebrate eid, we have a block party. when the weather is good, people sing calypso, they do james brown impersonations, there's always a martial arts demonstration. people perform like hip-hop, all that kind of stuff. so that is, like for me, what i grew up seeing, black muslim culture.
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of course i grew up around other groups in my family exposed me to other groups when i was young, and i took it upon myself when i graduated from college and was looking for -- or just having more time to be social, just being in all kinds of different communities, whether it's the nyu community. i'm a part of this other one. and being in these different groups where there are various cultures. if you are muslim and you are from south asia, you have a culture that is south asia culture and also muslim. a lot of times that is conflated as being muslim culture because a lot of times those people grew up around, whether you are south asian, maybe even probably african and arab if you grew up in a country that has been predominately muslim, then your identity or your idea about what is islam is whatever your people are doing, right. but then if you come from a
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culture where you are very much american, because you are african-american or you like caribbean american, which at least from my parents' generation and myself as a child of caribbean american parents, and we really just kind of gradually started identifying a lot with the african-american community or gaining an understanding of what their thinking was why, that kind of stuff even if we have the same exact history, so it's like this merger. so it was always this idea that -- i always grew up with this idea from my father like that was when it comes to your culture, like who i am as an american and a caribbean american, and islam, then you take your culture and you funnel it through islam.
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islam is like, it will teach you your morality. it will teach you to pray, don't drink alcohol. these are the things i knew. don't drink alcohol. you have a certain diet. abstain from sex until you are married. all these different things. and is the larger culture has these aspects in it that are not in islam, then you funnel that out, but everything that's good, you can keep it. that's what i learned growing up. so i knew there was lots of things i could do and take from american and caribbean culture but things that i didn't. so me even for a caribbean american, carnival is a big deal. my family is trinidadian. and when i was younger, they would take us to carnival as a little girl. my parents converted to islam. my dad when he was 19. my mom and she was like 26, and they got married in their early 20's. we used to go to carnival when i was a kid. after a while my dad kind of thinking -- he started looking at carnival like differently
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because he's thinking in terms of modesty, and he started thinking, maybe this is not so good to have my daughter see people gyrating on each other and just all of the life huge party atmosphere. so it is just like, bad things. i'm caribbean, i can listen to the music and everything like that, but carnaval i am not going to partake in carnival because i'm muslim. this sensibility, this awareness i knew, i was able to separate it. you are in it, everybody, if you are egyptian -- if you are not egyptian, muslim, if you are in a culture that is a part of being pakistani means being muslim, you might not be able to funnel things out as much. but then another thought about the muslim community that i want to share, i almost feel like we have this term that is such a
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strong term i don't hear it as much now. uma. we have this idea of uma meaning, muslim, like this global muslim village. like this global muslim idea. to me it's almost like the american idea like we the people and all these ideals we strive for but are not perfect with as americans. freedom, liberty, all this kind of stuff. perfect union, right? to form a perfect union. you strive for it, this is the ideal, and the uma, there's this ideal that i think brings us together a lot where it's like, you just kind of have this trust in a sense. i grew up with this feeling of like trust of muslims because they have this sort of morals that are good that just makes us kind of get each other. you know?
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and some of that has withered away a bit, with, you know, after 9/11. even that sense of high alert, that america, well, you know, america has kind of had about muslims and terrorists or whatever, that have affected our communities as well. we have many, many layers to being a muslim. >> and i think it is interesting if we go back to professor bayoumi's historical roots of the country, we definitely have estimates of about 30% of slaves that came here were muslim, the settling of certain colonies like roanoke had people who were muslim, they were turkish and moores who were president and cash -- present in iowa.
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the first mosque built in the country was in cedar rapids by lebanese immigrants in the late 1800's. trying to understand that in the frame within the frame, how it's very easy to have identity erased, to be present but still be invisible and to not be kind of recognized also goes back to some of the historical roots of the country where aspirations of individuals coming sought a land that embraced immigrants and diversity, which is very distinct from the european context in which people were leaving from. they didn't seek to embrace diversity in that sense, even on a theoretical level. where you had the literal launching of crusades, trans-atlantic slave trades in the name of religion, and then an embrace of the secular and liberalism, saying that spirituality and faith, they are kind of the bane of everything in society, so let's go in a different direction. this country didn't fight its worst battles in those frames, but it fought its bloodiest
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battles, its civil wars, around race and class. the foundational documents of the country literally afforded full privilege to white men, gave nothing to women, and didn't even equate black men and women as a whole person in comparison to their white counterparts. and i think that's an important thing to understand, that i'm hearing from you all, how the institutional development and policies that we see today our time, there is this deeply entrenched mechanism that impacts minority populations of all backgrounds to necessitate this understanding, a foundational anti-blackness, to then be able to address what is symptomatic and manifests itself in the form of an anti-muslim identity.
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>> we can search a deal with some of the challenges we have here that are definitely impacting muslim communities through to sexuality or to look through distinct communities. it is impacting a lot of minority population tied to race and class. what can we as diverse individuals due to be able to harness a much-needed pluralism that allows for us to be part of the solution to this and move beyond just a conversation that enables us to individually come together better and then start to take on some of the institutional issues that are really infringing on the day-to-day lives of so many? >> the want to go?
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-- do you want to go? >> i think the conversations are an important part of what will eventually come. i think a lot about the ways in which certain communities and certain groups have learned by virtue of the fact that they had to in order to survive. i think about my conversation with my friends, post 9/11, and this new awareness that was suddenly her reality of, "oh my goodness, suddenly i am a target." being a blackof person and thinking, that will not happen, just keep going. the conversation is a beginning of the change. i think none of these things are won.y one -- i think some battles are about even a level of awareness. the fact that muslims are many
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things. the fact that the medium -- ,edia has its own narrative they are not necessarily as independent as you would have hoped. the idea of questioning things. .he idea of seeking answers it is a very difficult thing to do when you are told to not trust what was traditionally seen as trusting. on allbeen societywide levels erosion of trust. that i think is a thing that is how we reckon with how we choose to treat marginalized and minority ethnic .roups and minority groups in general. there are a lot of conversations around the idea of americans of lower incomes. around the health care debate, for example.
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these are things nobody was looking at before. falter any went to. the poor can suffer, whatever. suddenly, there was a moment, a tipping point when we were all pushing towards something and that becomes a big story about the disenfranchised. again, talk about separating groups, it's everyone everyone -- suddenly everyone was concerned about the white working class. a keep thinking about the ways that, having conversations and pushing boundaries, and these things are part of a domino effect where we have several -- the idea that we have one mode of attack. one mode of tackling a problem is something i think we have to get out of thinking. this is something i haven't that grassroots levels. thingsare doing amazing across levels. it has to be a multi-pronged
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approach. otherwise, there are cracks and people fall through them. that is when you begin to form a islam in we talk about america. we are talking about brown people and not black. we are talking about rich doctors as opposed to the working-class people who drive caps, and the people who are street cleaners and are struggling. are all small things. it starts with the idea of representation of who is muslim. i am thinking about your work with homeland. we spoke about this on the podcast that if you see something, say something. that the damien lewis character, think of the very first episode and it is the stiffest praying you have ever seen. you say, what is wrong with him, what are you doing. [laughter] >> it is so odd.
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are all things i think we are all trying to challenge, and to move past. that is the beginning of something. aree conversations conversations that don't necessarily feel helpful, but actually are. i would say that because i am a talker as opposed to -- i am not in policy or government, that these are things we have to consider from all levels. tandemeople working in with one another, with organizations, with groups, with all of these other structures that push everything forward. i think if you are interested only in your own liberation, and not in the liberation of society as a whole, that is not liberation for anyone. there is a way that muslim americans have to be deeply concerned about everybody's liberties.
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also -- on the other side of things, there is a tremendous opportunity around muslim american issues because they are also at the core -- you do not have to convince people of this. i have been doing this for a long time. as to way you should be paid attention to american muslim civil liberty issues. now you don't have to convince people anymore. important really element to that right now, i think. which is that, now, i think we are starting to see something that many of us have known or are intuitive of for a long time. fighting for muslim american rights is not really about the , itts of muslim-americans is fighting for a society want to live in. to that degree, i think one of underreported -- not
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underreported, but under thought, under theorized things about our contemporaries moment is that, we talk about the situation of muslim-americans, we put them in the frame of u.s. race relations. what we think about race relations in the united states, historically, we tend to think almost exclusively in domestic ways. fact is, as long as there are wars overseas, muslim americans -- muslim-americans are vulnerable. a ways in which civil liberties for muslim-americans don't exist are affected with with american foreign policy. i think that we as a general population often feel like we cannot change of american foreign-policy very easily, but we can change the way things happen inside of the country. we have to change what is going on overseas. i think that is what is really at stake here.
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really not just for our own survival, but for the very survival of what this country should be, and really for the survival of the planets and a lot of ways. that is where we are. i think the theme of resisting artificial silo in is a really powerful and instructive theme. when you think about the spectrum pickles from the local you pause to, and consider that from the u.s. government perspective, various u.s. government agencies look at it as a singlet continuation. i don't see it as domestic policy security issues, and what is going on overseas the way the u.s. government is participating in super -- certain countries internationally. they're looking at a range from their perspective. a range from security policies and practices that can be global all the way down to the most minute local circumstance.
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those of us who care about communities who are particularly affected by these policies and practices want to stand in solidarity with those communities, and work hand-in-hand to challenge those policies. we are doing ourselves a disservice by accepting that kind of silo inc. and focusing more on the domestic versus international. could be set at a more local level. in police interested accountability issues, and you want the new york city police department to function in ways that are more responsible, that are more accountable, it is and, to antificial extent, fullest to distinguish between one set of policies and practices that are racist, then another. for a very long period of time it needed to be more concrete. off.activists were siloed that was a strategic mistake,
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and one that i think was corrected recently. fundamentally, these policies don't exist. it is the same, nypd that is implementing stop and frisk and targeting black and latino communities. it is nypd that is cire lancing communities and targeting muslims. to look at these things in isolation is to ignore the everyday reality of many people. many people on the panel have made this point and embodied this point that, many folks are black, latino and muslim at once. they are subject to stop and frisk in their neighborhood, just like they are subject to nypd surveillance in their neighborhood. in recent years, activists have corrected for that and have begun to draw those bridges and alliances more powerfully organized, recognizing the commonality of the challenge, and recognizing they are doing with eight common enemy. that is a much more effective approach that needs to be
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generalized nationally and all the way up to what is happening overseas. and the problematic ways in which our government participates in war. if you were to give a list of to people on how they can become more informed, not just the narratives that are more domestic, but inclusive to distinct narratives domestically in their own neighborhoods, we are in brooklyn, which is a , portland has a lot of food insecurity issues. a lot of poverty, a lot of challenges. i stood at a park right around here named after one of the beastie boys because somebody graffiti it with swastikas and the word trump, and i think, make america white again. we had a press conferences.
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the reality is that it is local, across the country and globally as well. what would you recommend to people to be able to brought in adenpective and beat -- bro perspective and become more informed and aware? >> it is funny because, i feel , a lotter 9/11 happened of things have happened then since muslims being seen as the villain, basically. it reminded me of what it felt like this feeling i would constantly have as a black american. the, as a kid growing up in 1980's in the 1990's, every time i would see a black man on the news with his head down or in handcuffs, or when i would hear about some kind of crime, a lot
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of times i would think, please don't make the person black. it justelt like -- always felt like black people are just so vulnerable to the active one person that our whole community was just so vulnerable. people would talk about it and i remember dave chapelle at a joke about it. he had this chart on comedy central when he had his show. it would be like, ok, oprah, 10 steps forward. then it would be like, little kim, five steps back. accent couldy's take you back. your people would lose with the acts of one. it is the samee thing being played out again. it has to do with the media, it , theo do with the police
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way they would treat black people. now it is the same thing. the media and the way that the police would treat black people. it spoke to the imagination and the minds of common people. also policies that are made. all of that is in the mind of the everyday person, then you get somebody where they see a muslim and they snap and it is a hate crime. they do something. misinformed, they are just hit mai tais by something that they heard. think, for the common person, for me it is like, i feel like i am watching the game that is played. it is like the same game that keeps being played and it keeps getting played on different individuals. it moves around.
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wereg time ago, japanese -- they were subject to what happened in the media and all of that, and policies. look where have been black people for a long time. it just moves around, and it is like, here is the new scapegoat, the new group of people who with the active one is the act of a few can bring them back and overshadow the active so many good people. something -- i don't know what to call it -- human nature. it is something we have to resist again. from one group to the next. we don't know who the next group will be after muslims, and it will probably be another group of people after muslims. refrain a little bit using the examples of the swastikas at the park.
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at a know if any of you were there. when i got on the mic to speak at that press conference, i told them that the swastika represents the darkest potential of humanity. there were so motivated by bigotry that their entire objective of the annihilation of our jewish brothers and sisters from this world. it represents the second dark potential inhumanity that those who sought to perpetrate genocide and violence were only able to be successful because there were so many others who had the means to stop them, they simply sat back and watched and did nothing. i think the indifference that plagues society today can be routed in political rhetoric, institutional policy, media narrative, but what do we do to break it? how do you get the hundred 50 people who are sitting here today to be comfortable enough to ignore knowledge why they are
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not angry when a black person gets shot in the street? why they are not standing when there are literal pipelines leaking oil to the lands of real indigenous populations of this country? why there are drones bombing places all over the world? or wynette of us know that there are 30 million people dying of starvation because of famine throughout east africa and parts of yemen? how do we break that? , spaces,specific books academics, activists, where do we go where we can experience -- thateople come to the -- you grew up in an experience islam in a very lived way? how do we start to know break down that path and meet that hate with something that is more positive, as opposed to some of the indifference that plagues us. ? it is kind of tireless work
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in that you are -- you do not get a day off from doing it. i am on twitter a lot and i think about the very specific people that i follow. i follow some very specific activists who are working on several fronts to make sure that the stays in people's minds. they do fundraising, they do awareness a raising -- awareness raising. working 20 47 and often times you will see people say, you should take a break because this is serious lifework. think, a lot of the times it comes from conversations that are happening that includes the locally.mmunities but also, conversations between non-muslim groups as well. there are a lot of times when i
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, in amething on twitter long thread of a stream of consciousness nonsense. somebody will say, "can you tell blah." blah usually it is a white person that replies. another web person will say why don't you try reading blah blah the, and that takes pressure off of me to give information. i think the conversations that are happening with muslims, that are great, in terms of naming your problem. you name the issue, then hopefully the solution comes from a conversation. also,k a lot of the time, muslims, black people, whoever is being currently subjugated in some way, if falls on them to be the one to -- which i guess, because you see it less clearly,
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but i think about the fact that we are not the only solutions to the problems. there are so many other people. ways ofa lot about the --ivism and interest that post donald trump's election. i attended the woman's march for work, as a woman and, seeing all these people angry -- there are people, andbly woke some that mimi left the hardest were being held by black woman or lgbt women. we are like, welcome. we have been here. i think that was a big thing. this idea of mass radicalization of the previously quiet suddenly thinking, oh, if they come for those people, they might come for me. that is something that has begun to happen. people are hopefully having
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these ideas percolating and churning. that is something going on and it is keeping that energy up. -- i am so often we trying to say, white people do better. that is the short answer. i am saying, do better. i think this is something that falls on not the marginalized groups, but the people who hold some modicum of power outside of those groups to go searching, to go looking for what they can do to help. that is something i think we fall down on. , you say onss facebook or twitter that this racist thing happened to me today, but i hope you're ok. someone might come along and make you some soup, which is nice. else areut soup, what you doing? are you talking to your racist family, or your police officer tole who has subjection
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various groups? are you talking to your father, mother, are you working on the local political party? i think a lot about thinking locally and that having these ripples that extend far beyond. i am not saying muslims and other people should wait for things to get better, but i am saying, a lot of the time, wait for somebody to do that. be the change you want to see. [laughter] >> and never said i was not cheesy. i am saying, a lot of the times, this is something you want to do. i think people are waiting for permission. if that is what you are waiting for, allow me, a foreigner in a foreign land to go forward and do the ink that will make it better for everyone. that is something i think needs to get hammered over and over again. you are the one you are waiting for. [laughter] >> i think this is something that -- i cannot stress how
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often this has to be told over and over again, to push harder, to make the phone calls, to attend jfk and make your voice heard. do something. you cannot wait. said, youat was being have to get to the point where you realize, if they come for your neighbor, they will come for you. othert think there is any way of saying it, except saying it. this is not about one person or one group, it is about all of us. we are all in this. if you take a step back, because it does not directly affect you today, you will not notice until it is at your door. then it is too late for all of us. you to do itwant for me, but also think about yourselves. question -- the way it
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are you doing? that is a question about sustainability. are the folks that you saw a protesting the muslim bank going to sustain the effort for the next four years, for the next eight years if trump gets reelected? more importantly, will they organize effectively? you need an organization to do that and a program to do that. just marching, or are they actually forming organizations and formulating agendas that they'd then did not follow up on. darkesty deepest and concerns at this point in time, as someone who has be -- and working on these issues. eight years under obama since the bush administration, working on issues, working with communities that have been targeted by various policies justified in the name of security. my concern is that, when a look at all of these people and groups in new to the party, as you were saying, are being tocomed, i wonder whether
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what extent there is alignment between my critique and there's. if there had been a fundamental alignment in our analysis, in our critique of what is going on, than those seen people would have been there for eight years under the obama administration when the very same results and outcomes were being achieved. it was a more muted fashion by the obama administration without all of the rhetoric did trump administration has been deploying. it has been no less damaging to the communities on the receiving end. wet a focus on communities work with, muslims have been excluded through the immigration system for eight years under the obama administration. he shattered all deportation records. if you work on immigration issues, you would know he deported more people than all presidents.
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but there was silence from the american left. what drives political outrage? is it a principled alignment of what is problematic about what is going on, or is that a sense of revolt and outrage of the unseemly nist of what trump is doing? this really is just about and the fact that the trump administration is putting forward a distasteful rhetoric, that -- then i am not sure those are allowable -- reliable allies. if the trump administration tones down its overtly racist, outlook,hobic, sexist then it will fall by the wayside. that is my darkest concern we try to figure out how to effectively organize, and who will be our allies in that struggle. really a sense of outrage at this trump administration deploying a distasteful rhetoric, then i
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think we are in trouble if we decide to rely on those sorts of allies. >> we are going to shift to audience q&a, just in interest of time. maybe people have questions, they can raise their hands. while we are doing that, i think we would at a third frame. i would say a lot of people on the left start to speak more so because they now stop seeing muslims as a liability and they thethem as an asset, and political strategy becomes advantageous. well before trump, every republican spoke really horrendously about muslim and various minority groups. the when he pushed it to a certain extent, and now became beyond detrimental and beneficial to be a champion and advocate, which is problematic in its own way. questions?ave we will go through the audience.
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deep in mind that we try to limit it to just questions in the interest of time. yes, in the back. for me as a muslim, a lot of things changed after 9/11. i was thinking, is this my religion, or something else? , all mym afghanistan life i have been a muslim. i saw how this very radical version of muslim emerged. it all started when the soviet union invaded afghanistan, an afghan rose against it. at the beginning nobody took it seriously, they that the soviet afghans fought very
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hard. then they caught the attention of the world. , the west,states pakistan, they saw an opening. they saw an opportunity to pay back to the soviets. majorityelp the afghan and the money came from the gulf countries, especially saudi arabia. to they needed in ideology sit and go with this very brutal war. when i say this war was very brutal, i sighed firsthand. ,hen a dropped from the plane bombs, or put up guns for the -- the soviets realize
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that they cannot win this war. -- because there were sanctuaries for that. this was really one and a half afghani's diet, and 15 -- died, and 15 million become immigrants and refugees. used weapons on both sides andbombs by the soviets products from the other side. >> just in the interest of time. say, how this to version of radical islam was created, and i have a question to this.
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they took the very radical version of islam, which was the they created saudi arabia. and is the version to unite support the saudi family and they created saudi arabia. they took that version and made it even more radical to fight and that is what emerged. i am coming to the question. that is how i saw 9/11. this was a political, not a religion. religion has nothing to do with it. my question is, is this only me
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that seizes, or other muslims, especially educated, who speaks better than me, more elegant? is this going to be explained to americans that it has nothing to do with us? i just want to hear your thoughts, sorry if i took too much time. is just so we can feel the last question every try to keep the responses to a couple of minutes each. about any practicing tenants of know the islam and the way we live. i know the way i live is someone who believes in the creator of this universe, and who believes in the benevolence of that should, and that we
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attribute all the good to him. i pray, fast during ramadan, i stay away from things that are bad and do things that are good. don't see anyone trying to protest against me doing any of those things. it does not seem like the tenants of islam is something that people are up against, it seems like something to do with differenthat, in many that have a highly muslim population. people say it is against islam because these people are muslim. it has nothing to do with the faith of the religion. anyourse people who create heinous act, they have nothing to do with their faithfulness or their belief in god. every religion advocates for the
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good and love and respect and kindness. >> thank you. do you have any other questions? yes, sir. good evening. first i wanted to thank everybody on the panel for coming out and speaking, and speaking pretty lightly on some of these topics. quickly, as an african-american muslim, born and raised in harlem, i would say, sometimes it is offensive hearing the word that after 9/11 things became bad. as an african-american muslim, wased in the marine corps, a correctional officer, to 20 years in the fire department. in each one of those jobs i had and i had a problem
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being muslim and african-american. after 9/11 it shifted to the stereotype of what they thought muslim was, but there was always a problem in this country. us, as muslims, no matter what ethnicity we are to look at that muslim party and say, hey, do the work and history. if you move to the country and see african-americans about this problem for so long, and muslims have had this problem for so long, you not think he will come here and it will be different for you. it might take time, but it will shift. the other comment about the greatest fear, one thing i a firefighter for 20 years am responding to 9/11 was that i was not surprised when trump won. in new york city, 90% -- more is african -- 2% is
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african-american firefighters. the tv was always on fox. they were always anti-shop than -- sharpton, anti-martin luther king, rings were posted in fire hice is all over the city. -- firehouses all over the city. they try to put trump on the fire truck and the mayor had to come to take it off. seeear, like you is, i people start having their thinking, and they are raising children that still have this same thinking. then i ask myself, how can it change? i know how i was raised as an african-american as a muslim. i know my father made an effort, he sent me to a jewish camp for three years. yes, because there was kosher food, but he wanted me to be around other people that were not just african-american people. i lived in mecca for a year.
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i was in the most holiest city and i saw how muslims lived. he made sure that i was not just around african-americans. ishink it looks like it going to be on the shoulders of , part ofo do that islam is already doing that, but to repeat it with our children and we will have to continue to be messengers of peace and continue to fight. i don't believe, for my experience, for the people that i have worked with, that they are passing that were to their children. it is just being repeated. >> great. thank you. how was the food at camp? [laughter] was a tasty question mark -- tasty? ok, good. that was really eloquent and important to hear. i just think that there is something about the pre-9/11, post 9/11.
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there were plenty of precedents isore 9/11 to the way islam stereotype in muslims have been discriminated against. after 9/11 and has been issue metallized -- instrumental eyes pre-9/11. in terms of, very quickly, i think it is really interesting with what you are saying about who is watching what you're at and relating that to the question earlier about what will we do about how to affect change in the world? one of the things we should do is stop watching tv. [laughter] >> there was a recent study that came out this week by the center, which is part of it kennedy school of government at harvard about media, this is on muslim in media representations. it was three different networks over the span of two years and
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they saw 75% of coverage about muslims on those two different networks is all about isis. times that muslims actually spoke about islam on those networks, it was 3%. of course, there are many other studies that say the more you watch fox news, the less you know about things. and the more you watch -- that is an actual study by the way. and the more you watch fox news, there is a coalition between people who watch fox news and who are racist or islam a phobic -- islamaphobic. what will we do about books? you should just read my book [laughter] . -- book. [laughter] >> everybody does great work on this panel.
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i completely appreciate the fact that there is unseemly nests -- in unseemly nests to donald ourp and that we will lose steam and that this is an authentic change moment or not. i also do think that, like, social change -- social movements can only be based on , and love, and getting together and wanting to change the world to be a better place. duty, are pushing out of we will lose a lot of people. get out are approaching of duty, we will lose a lot of people. they think you find other ways of how other people also have fun, and what their imperatives are. use your own brilliance, your own genius in your ways. social change does not only have to come from going to a demonstration.
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everybody has their own talent. if we could use all of our own individual talents challenged -- the rightchanneled in way, based on sharing our planet, what a better world we would live in. i just want to put that out. suspicions ofhe the trepidations, but i do think we have to be -- we have to have some joy in it at the same time. >> i think the joy is something that comes because we are human beings. wheno have the worry that, something is no longer trendy, i am reminded of the quote where he says, if you sleep at someone or go homes -- or go home with them. it is kind of true. extent, you have to think,
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it is work. it is work. i think about the movement, i think about the civil rights movement. there is music to go with the movement and the moment. there is also the actual work of the moment. i do think about how people are -- i was on the train after the woman's march and people were saying, i am awake now and i am fighting now. leant wanting to say and over and say, please do. she was a 90-year-old as she was with her three generations of ross -- offspring. she that i am really fired up. i said, that is really great. i hope when she gets comfortable again, she does not stop doing the work. i think yes, of course joy, of course fun. i was so pleased to see them
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all, but i kept thinking, please do not stop because, when there is comfort you do forget. i think about the motivating tools that -- there was something that someone said about the civil rights movement, the things that really helped was that white people had shame and you could shame them to be better. they don't have that anymore. i thought, that is a very important thing for us to think about. how do you make sure that things stay in people's minds that they keep doing the work? all tactics do not work anymore. sometimes, joy is not enough. i think that what has happen, now is that people are curious. islam, muslim,e a pops up in the media so much whereas, prior to 9/11, yes,
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there were things happening. we had different kinds of issues . it was not spoken about so much. people have become curious. like, what is this islam thing? muslim,s it mean to be maybe people start googling, or they start researching for themselves. form an opinion now, where as, previously it was not something you may have been thinking about it all. me, i tend to think that there is inevitably some good coming out of every kind of situation. right now, we do see a lot of negative things happening. we see a lot of good as well. even people -- people are now forming -- thinking about things that they were not thinking
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about learning and that they knew nothing about. a lot of people are discovering a lot of good things about the notition that they did think anything about. even if they were looking into spirituality, like i said, my parents are both converts. now thinking, maybe i want to be muslim, or that kind of thing. for my debt, he did not even think what people could be muslim, that he always sought indian people as muslim. once he came here and realize, it is very diverse, there are black people that are muslim, it awoke something in him to start discovering and looking into that. i think people's curiosity is the first thing. are -- you get to decide who you are. are you going to be someone who , which ishe past
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bigotry and it never ends, or are you going to be someone who looks and wants to find out the truth? are these just a bunch of stereotypes, are these people being scapegoated, or is it just some people who are bad and they are being shined a light on. i think that is what is happening. >> i think that is a pretty good note to end on. thank you all for joining us this evening and thank you to our panelists. [applause] >> today on c-span, washington journal is next with your phone calls. from the hudson institute a look at political violence and
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terrorism in latin america. and tonight a look at federal budget proposals. journal wewashington talk to journalists from , boston, baltimore memphis and tampa about local efforts to remove confederate monuments. ♪ host: good morning. in the wake of recent violence in charlottesville city officials moved yesterday to cover two confederate monuments in black tarp to symbolize the morning of the death of heather heyer. the move reflects efforts across the country. in baltimore four statues were removed overnight recently. and what to do in stone mountain, georgia, america's largest confederate memorial which the smithsonian says was the fight of the ku klux klan's


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