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US Black Muslim Going Through Identity Crisis: Where Do I Belong?

05 August, 2022
Q Since I was young I’ve mostly been surrounded by Western media and Arab media. I never really liked my culture and found it hard to feel Connected to it. I watch Disney and most of the stuff that western kids watch. As I got older everything got more confusing. My country was colonized too so a lot of people have the colonial mentality and this internalized self-hatred. I was definitely having an identity crisis, if I’m not Arab or Western and dislike my own people then what am I? It wasn’t a good realization.

Some Koreans are still ignorant about black people and Muslims and some of them are downright racist.That makes me feel guilty sometimes. I tell myself that it is pointless to learn the language and I lose motivation for a while. I wanted to learn some European languages too in the future but by the way islamophobia seems to be increasing in certain countries like France and Germany, it saddens me.

I have thought about learning languages like Japanese and Chinese but then I remember the Muslims that are getting tortured in China and I feel sort of ashamed. One of my wishes is to travel around the world. Now when I think of it, it sounds like a joke. I want to travel but to where? They won’t like me. Why do we care so much about race? Why don’t we accept that things like that are what makes us different and being different is what makes us human?

I know this question might sound ridiculous and I’m sorry but I feel Racism and Islamophobia very deeply. I keep seeing news about hate crimes and slurs aimed at Muslims in general and some people even think we deserve it. And then I have to deal with news about terrorists and honor killing that almost everyone relates to Islam.

Then there are the stereotypes that are given to Muslim women in general, the oppressed and abused. I have been hearing it for so long that I’m afraid I’m starting to believe it. I sometimes feel like the whole world is bullying Muslims. It is really making me feel helpless and scared.

Why is it happening? How can I deal with it without getting overwhelmed? Does being a black hijab wearing girl make me less likely to achieve my dreams? I feel so confused about my identity and sense of belonging.

Answer


In this counseling session:

  • Their views are not your own and you are not personally responsible for them. In fact you could even be a source of contributing to change the stereotype by being the one who shows that black Muslim women are not all they are stereotyped to be.
  • Don’t be afraid to learn about other cultures or even learn the languages especially since it seems this is something you excel at.
  • You should also always keep in mind that Allah will not judge anyone on their skin color, or ethnic and cultural backgrounds, only on their level of faith.
  • Allah made it clear that He made us different so that we could get to know each other. If only everyone followed this advice, the world would be a much more peaceful place. 

Assalamalikum,

I’m so pleased to hear that you find our site so helpful.

You are welcome to send in any questions anytime.

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Please don’t apologize for sending such long questions either.

Often, simply writing things down like this can be therapeutic in itself.

Because it gives you the chance to get these concerns off your chest.

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Especially when you feel uncomfortable to share it with those close to you.

It’s almost like writing a journal entry, but knowing that someone is going to read it and respond.

In sha Allah, anyone else who is also going through the same dilemma may also benefit too. 

US Black Muslim Going Through Identity Crisis: Where Do I Belong? - About Islam

Culture

This leads to the first point, having awkward feelings towards your own culture is not unusual.

It can certainly be a positive thing to be proud of your nation.

Because it helps to promote a sense of belonging and connectedness.

However, most cultures also have some kind of dark history.

That once realised, can make people from the culture feel some element of shame towards their own culture.

This often becomes most prominent when you get to a stage in life where you experience different cultures.

And perhaps even experience some kind of racism, whether towards yourself, or are a witness to it being directed towards someone else.

Identity

On top of this, you are at that crucial age where you are establishing your own individual identity.

Until this time this was not amongst your priorities.

And you probably had little clue about racism or the history of your culture.

As you mature, and become more independent you are now noticing these things.

It becomes distressing because until this point you were naive to the realities that were always there.

And now you are suddenly faced with them. This is a shock enough.

But combined with the process of now establishing your identity you are entering a feeling of crisis.

This is something that most people your age goes through, especially those who are more exposed to different cultures either through face to face encounters, or even through the media. 

Stereotype

Unfortunately, stereotyping only makes situations like this worse.

People tend to turn to stereotyping because it’s easy.

If you fit someone, or a culture, race or religion into a stereotype then there becomes little need to get to know others because you’ve already decided that they must be the same as others from that group.

Not only that, but to judge someone according to a negative stereotype can make you feel better about yourself.

This certainly seems to make life easier in many ways for the one who chooses to stereotype.

And unfortunately many people fall into this trap, sometimes unconsciously even.

But, just because its something that is commonly done, it does not make it ok.

It’s a sign of closed mindedness and prevents people from mixing with others and truly learning about and appreciating cultural differences.

This is unfortunate, because mixing with others like this can be an excellent way to promote peace and integration between cultures.

Moving away from a world full of such hatred towards others. 


Check out this counseling video:


Moving forward

I hope that understanding the background underlying why these terrible things even exist in the first place will help you think differently moving forward.

I understand that based on the stereotypes that exist, as well as feelings of self-shame as a result of your cultural background are holding you back from doing the things that you really want to do.

However, if you can see the situation with the above things in mind this might encourage you to not be one of them; to not be of those who behave according to stereotypes and instead make the effort to mix with others from other cultures, learn their culture and to learn your own too. 

Remember, their views are not your own and you are not personally responsible for them, in fact you could even be a source of contributing to change the stereotype by being the one who shows that black Muslim women are not all they are stereotyped to be. Let them see another side of things.

Whilst you might be harrowed by the history of your culture, again, remember, you were not the one responsible for that, and neither do you endorse it either.

But that also doesn’t mean that you need to hate your people because of things that happened many years ago, that they also had nothing to do with it either. 

Learning

With all these things in mind, don’t be afraid to learn about other cultures or even learn the languages especially since it seems this is something you excel at.

This will help to not only break stereotypes of people like you, but also the stereotypes you might be holding also.

Even if you were/are not aware of then. This might help you to lose the sense of helplessness that you are experiencing because you would be proactively doing something about it. 

Faith

You should also always keep in mind that Allah will not judge anyone on their skin color, or ethnic and cultural backgrounds, only on their level of faith.

In fact, Allah made it clear that He made us different so that we could get to know each other.

If only everyone followed this advice, the world would be a much more peaceful place. 

May Allah reward your efforts and help you find peace in yourself and with others.

May He make your journey one of strength and enlightenment. 

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris
Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)