The Images We Present To America As Muslims

Dear Muslims: I personally do not believe perceptions will change in America until we help our fellow non-Muslim Americans to see our community through the prism that I and many others do at least on the surface. When Americans hear “American Muslim” and the images they conjure up happen to be African American or Caucasian American faces instead of South East Asian or Arab faces, i.e. images they can relate to versus images they automatically view as foreign, then through the┬ámagic of psychology and sociology they will not view our communities as this “foreign” thing that came from overseas after 9/11 or a few decades ago, but instead a vibrant, diverse community that’s been in existence well before this country was even called the United States of America. Yes we know it’s regrettable, yes we know it’s sad, yes we know I might even be messed up for saying it, but seriously if we took a step back, we might be willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, we ourselves as a community are helping to fuel the stereotypes, when every time there is a discussion about Islam in America the only faces we put out there to represent us, just happen to be South East Asian or Arab. Nope I don’t have a degree in PR or Marketing, but I have this feeling that if Americans heard Islam and thought more along the lines of Muhammad Ali, WD Muhummad, Hamza Yusuf, Yusuf Estes, etc. instead of this or that brother or sister who has relatives in Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, etc….nevermind, ignore me, I’m just a little off. But having lived in the North and the South, having grew up in a different religion, and knowing only about 2 or 3 things, I know if I were a non-Muslim American and every time I turned on TV to hear someone talk about how great and nice Islam and Muslims are and the “Muslim Representative” was Arab or Pakistani, I’d probably roll my eyes and think foreign, but if the guy happened to be a white guy from California or a black guy from Philly, ok maybe not Philly (just joking), but seriously if our image was more Mos Def than Ahmed from Cairo, we’d get somewhere.

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