In general, I believe that my multiple identities will enhance my college experience. As a Black Muslim student, I’m bound to face multiple stereotypes that dehumanize me in different ways. The hardest one to overcome is the correlation that the media sets between Muslims and terrorism. In fact, I already came across one encounter during college. It happened in my Statistics class in Concordia University. Basically, two of my classmates decided to talk about Al-Qaida and women oppression right when I came to join their group as assigned by the professor. Rather than joining their conversation and perhaps challenging their stereotypes, I decided to play the victim role and disassociate myself completely which in-turn earned me an F for the assignment. I don’t know what possessed me to remain silent, I think I was just startled by them since I was obviously outnumbered. At the time, I thought of it as war-zone, where they were the attackers and I the defeated defender of my entire race and religion. Now, I realize that most people are welcoming and humble as long as you approach them and tell them of your opinions and beliefs. We are meant celebrate our differences as the professor mentioned in class, and that’s what I plan to do for the remainder of my college years.
As a result of being a first-generation student from Africa, people usually assume that I don’t speak English or that I am not ‘smart’ enough. I had some encounters were some students and faculty members stared at me wide-eyed when I spoke in English without an accent. In my public speaking course, one of the feedbacks that I received from my professor was that I spoke fluently. Of course I speak fluently, I was born here for God’s sake. Again, I didn’t question her on the weird comment and just went about my ways. Some students in my Literature class even had the audacity to ignore my presence when we were put in a small group, they just brushed me aside and when I gave them my input they seemed to welcome me more. In fact, one of them told me that he never seen someone like me in class before. To this day I don’t know what he really meant. The only way to counteract this stereotype is by educating myself and sharing my ideas with other people. I basically have to become more outspoken. This is something I’m currently struggling but hope to overcome soon.
I believe that overcoming these stereotypes will help me grow intellectually and will shape my personality into becoming a purposeful and perhaps successful individual.
On the positive end, my identities will also allow me to have a different perspective than most people, which will enable me to be more insightful and resourceful on certain topics.