Two Black Christian Males Trying to Grasp Islamophobia | Q&A

Q
: This Olympics the media decided that Muslim athlete in hijab + American flag + bronze medal = a story.

Not everyone was receptive.

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) declared last year that one of its principle aims is to “eliminate the grayzone” in Western countries — to, by way of increasingly horrific attacks on civilians, create anti-Muslim hatred in North America and Europe that will force a separation between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Trump’s (and his followers’) stances seem congenial, leaving the rest of us feeling like the meat between slices of xenophobia.

When so many of your countrymen/women are playing right into the terrorists’ ideological hands, it makes you wonder if the two sides (radical Islam & radical anti-Islam) are actually enemies. In spirit.

How should those of us in the “grayzone” be carrying ourselves in action and conversation in order to push against all this?

___________________________

Gabriel Bailey
As a Black Christian Male, life is fairly easy going for me.

A
: I love to be right. Sometimes I like to be right so much that I raise my voice as a way of getting my point across. In my mind I’m simply raising my voice to help the other person hear what I’m saying, because obviously the person must not have heard me initially.

Through countless hours of research and field work I have discovered that fifteen times out of ten, when I raise my voice, the person I’m debating with will too. The interesting thing is my reaction to their yelling — I get offended at the fact they’re yelling at me. As if I didn’t hear what they had to say in the first place! Of course I did, that’s why I raised my voice!

The moral of the story? Human beings can be very trifling with each other.

In order to understand why someone is doing something to you, you should probably look at what you’re doing to them. Even if you didn’t intend to make them upset, consider the fact that perception is reality. If they perceived a slight to have occurred, they will react accordingly… the same way you’d react if you perceived a slight against you.

In the case of the Muslim experience, we as a nation have demonized and vilified Muslims for years. From the times of Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers, each time a group of Muslims band together they are immediately seen as a threat. They are immediately treated as a threat. The more these people are viewed as “evil” and “deadly,” the more impossible it becomes for them to do anything helpful or positive.

By simply examining America’s recent foreign affairs you’d see how often we mistreat anyone in the Muslim community. We stormed into their land and fought proxy wars on their soil and are shocked when they retaliate. This same occurrence happened in Vietnam and we still have poor relations with half that country because of it. America has a deep and consistent history of mistreating groups of people for personal gain, yet those who choose to ignore it will only perpetuate it. By pretending America is a patron saint of our global community we turn ourselves into false idol worshiping blasphemers.

If the gray zone represents those people who are interested in trying to deal with two ridiculous sides, then by all means put me inside of that camp. I have done a lot of America bashing in the piece so I will try to be a bit more fair here. The fact of the matter is, there are quite a few Extremists in both Muslim and American societies and it’s sad. The group of individuals that I truly feel sorry for are the Muslim Americans who are stuck in the most perplexing and awkward position of everyone.

As a Black Christian Male, life is fairly easy going for me. We have a lot of societal issues that still need to be addressed and given more air time but, for the most part I can deal (there are so many issues in the Black community but that’s another article for another time). However, when you’re a Muslim American, what do you honestly have to look forward to? You want to be an American but a lot of what America does directly affects your brothers and sisters across the world in negative ways. You can’t even fully rely on the Muslim community because of the sheer number of extremists who take the law and twist it for their own gain.

What’s even sadder is the fact that, no matter how hard they try, Muslim Americans are never really accepted into either camp. They are the people who are actually in this “gray zone.” I can give my opinion and such but, at the end of the day, it’s simply my opinion. For those who are actually deeply affected by it, this is their reality. They can’t walk more than five feet in any direction without being judged as terrorists by Americans or traitors by their overseas counterparts. Honestly, the only people who can properly explain and give voice to this issue are Muslim Americans. They need more of a political, global, and community presence. They need to be able to explain what it means to be smack in the middle of a global conflict that has been years in the making. I am simply curious to hear their side of the argument.

With that said, I’d hope one day soon I will be able to vote for candidates that actually have my best interest at heart. I’d hope to walk down the street myself and be able to be seen and not persecuted for the color of my skin. I’d hope to love a woman and not be seen as some “player” or “dog” simply because of how I dress or how I talk. But, then again, I’d hope to be fed free food for the rest of my life and travel into space for my weekend vacations. I’m pretty sure all my hopes are reasonable. What’s unreasonable are the people who are in charge of making these hopes realities. I may not fully understand my Muslim American brothers and sisters but I’d hope that they can make it a point to try and explain their position to me… Or maybe I should just be looking harder to find their opinions. Someone’s to blame here and, to be honest, it’s probably me. If everyone actually owned their own mistakes and short comings, I wonder where we’d be as a society right now?