Black History Month is happening now. Here on Ummahsonic, we’ve already told you about some high-flying black Muslims and an Instagram photo archive charting the Black experience in the UK. Today, we’re introducing you to Black and Muslim in Britain, a new web series discussing what it means to be – how can we put this – Black and Muslim in Britain.
The web series was created by a group of activists, academics and artists who were frustrated by the erasure of Black Muslims from discussions of black history as well as Islam – even though they make up around 10% of the UK’s Muslim population.
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, project cofounder Mohamed Mohamed said he was inspired to start the show as a university student, after he noticed a lack of dialogue about black history and black lives in Muslim spaces: ‘Black Muslim students would always go to other student groups and engage in black history, and I always wondered why the Islamic society had never done anything about [it].’
The first episode deals primarily with this issue. One talking point focuses on the lives of prominent black Muslims like Malcolm X and Mohamed Ali, whose religious motivations have largely been excluded from the popular historical narratives surrounding them.
The interviewees explain how black history and Islam are incorrectly perceived as mutually exclusive. As one contributor says: ‘People don’t recognise Islam as a ‘black’ religion a lot of the times because they don’t have that knowledge and understanding….so they see it as an adopted religion.’
The second episode is particularly eye opening. For black Muslims, we’re sure the anecdotes – the ignorance, the racism – offered by the contributors are all too familiar. For anyone else, they reveal a shocking reality of discrimination and microaggressions. The recurring theme, it seems, is a cultural disbelief that black people can be Muslims, or rather, Muslims who haven’t recently converted.
Of course, this is not the case – which the guests effectively explain – and even if some black Muslims are ‘reverts’, it shouldn’t be an issue. While Black and Muslim in Britain deals with issues that are often difficult to hear, it also offers a broader truth: Islam is a diverse religion practiced by people of all races, nationalities and backgrounds.
Be sure to subscribe to the channel here.