A Constant Target
Being a Black Muslim in America is like having a consistent target on your back. You’re considered to be not only a part of a hated racial group, but also a targeted religious group. My name is Fadi G. I am currently a freshman at SUNY Oswego, a predominantly white institution. Since I have been here, I have faced consistent injustice. As a freshman in my school, it is a requirement to take an elective during the first semester. I chose to take Creative Writing 206, and little did I know I was going to be the only freshman in the class. In fact, not only was I the only freshmen, I was the only person of color, amongst 19 other seniors majoring in creative writing. On the first day of class, the professor distributed the syllabus which stated the two essay requirements of the semester.
I decided to write my fiction story about a married interracial couple, Tiffany and John. In the story, Tiffany is a black OB-GYN; and her husband John who comes from a racist background, works in the psychiatric field. Growing up, John’s parents were against people of color, however, John never really understood why his parents were the way they were. In my story, I added a flashback of when Tiffany and John were dating in college and John decided it was time for his girlfriend to meet his parents. In that scene, John’s mother called Tiffany a nigger and demanded her to leave the house immediately along with her son. The whole class read my paper and provided their critiques.
One student said, “Your story is not realistic. Racism took place in the 1900s and we’re in 2017 now.” Another student said, “You need to change the time period of your story because racism no longer exists, ugh just like that stupid black lives matter movement.” Instantly, I felt myself wanting to slap her across the floor, but as a class rule, every student getting their story critiqued in front of the class was not able to speak or make any facial reaction. It would invalidate their grade. I decided to walk out of the classroom to cool myself down because it took a lot for me not to say anything. This wasn’t the first time I felt this anger at Oswego. During another interaction, I asked a student if the college has a Muslim Student Association in which she replied, “What are you trying to do, kill us all?” She was not only disgusted by me, but even laughed at the question and thought I was joking. It was in that moment I realized that going to a predominantly white institution will consistently challenge me in different ways. In ways beyond explanation and in ways I will need to overcome.
Being a Black Muslim Woman in a predominantly white institution is like a walking target. A target that will never be ignored and a target that will forever be aimed at.
Fadi G. is currently a freshman at SUNY Oswego. She is a double major in Biology and Cognitive Science.