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New Novel Brings More Black Muslim Representation to Literature

Watching five years of political polarization from her hometown in Washington DC, Laila Nashid, a 23-year-old Emory student, has decided to fight back with a novel that tackles Black Muslims’ online activism and the assumptions people make about each other.

“Going to school in D.C. and just living in that area, politics is always in the background of everyday life,” Nashid told The Emory Wheel.

“The Muslim ban and how anti-Muslim sentiment was being used politically really inspired this book, and also I wrote it a little bit after the 2016 election, so I think [I] was also just grappling with [what] that result meant for me as a Black Muslim woman as well.

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“All of that coalesced, and I also used to be a book review blogger, so the blogging aspect of my book comes from that.”

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The journey of Nashid towards the release of her new book, “You Truly Assumed” started in 2016 when she was a sophomore in high school.

She completed several writing mentorship programs during her senior year to help her with the process. The book will see light in stores on February 8, 2022.

Long Journey

Nashid made sure to include her friends in the process of writing, sharing with them snippets of her drafts.

“Seeing Laila go through the process was incredibly educational,” said Olivia Bautista (23C).

“I got an inside scoop into the publishing world that I never expected. From rounds and rounds of edits, to picking the background color of the book cover, and even how taxes work for an author, Laila was incredibly open to sharing and including her friends in the experience.”

As Nashid cannot represent everyone, she was determined to include as many unique views in her book as possible.

“I think the biggest thing that I want people to take away is that there’s no one way to make change,” Nashid said.

“Because ‘You Truly Assumed’ follows three different point of view characters, they’re all bringing different perspectives to the blog, and they’re all making change in different ways. There is no right way to really do activism; you can make change the way that makes sense to you.”

In recent years, Black Muslim authors started a new genre targeting Muslim children and highlighting the challenges facing Muslim families and communities.

The last three years also saw the annual Black Muslim Authors Conference (BMAcon) held every February to discuss the intersections and influence of race and faith on their work.