This is a topic that is close to my heart. I am Black British as most people would describe it. My mom was born here in the UK, the first generation from a Kittian mother (from St Kitts) and a Monstratton father (from Monserrat). My dad was born in Jamaica and came to England when he was about 17 with his younger brother. My grandmother was already in the UK.
Growing Up Black British
Both my mum and dad experienced racism here in the UK. “No Irish, no blacks, no dogs” as my grandad described it in the early days. They didn’t suffer it as badly as my grandparents did but the UK was still extremely overtly racist.
Then my sister and I were born, she in the 80’s me in the 90’s. Again, my sister most likely experienced more racism than me but I had my fair share. Mostly when I hit my older years.
We were raised in a majority white area where it was very rare to see a black family thriving the way we were. We had a nice 3 bedroom house in suburbia. Took frequent holidays abroad, dad owned his own business and mom owned her own house before they married. We were like that black family that people always say they’d like to see on TV. Mom, dad, kids. The only thing we were missing was a pet dog!
As I got older, the racism turned from being from outside of the black community and hearing things like “you’re not like other black people”. As if they’d met every black person on the planet. And slowly soured into colourism within the black community. I am a dark-skinned black woman which brings its own level of discrimination. I’ve heard things like “you’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl” and others to that effect. Then, I became Muslim.
(If you’ve watched The Boondocks, you’ll know who this guy is ^^^)
Islam and Racism
In his last sermon the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.
This to me is Islam in a nutshell but many Muslims have forgotten this.
I see the looks I get when I go to halaqahs (Islamic circles) or the mosque and I’m the only black Muslim there. I know the questions they want to ask but are too awkward to approach me. I’m aware that if Allah swt had not already blessed me with a husband it may be difficult for me to get married because of my skin colour.
I also know how wrong all of these statements are in light of our beautiful religion but Islam should not be judged based on the people that follow it. It needs to be judged on the example of our Messenger (saw) and the words of Allah swt.
We all know about the struggles of Bilal (ra) and how there were some people that just refused to accept him for the man he was first and foremost, putting his race aside. For some Muslims today it’s no different. Racism is a form of pride and the one with just a speck of pride in their heart will never enter paradise.
Would the majority of the Muslim world let Bilal (ra) marry their daughters? Unfortunately, I’d have to answer no. But these same people will parade Bilal (ra) around as the “token black Muslim” and an explanation as to why there is no racism in Islam. The minds boggles.
As a black Muslim in the beginning, I found it hard to find my ‘place’ in Islam. The strong connection between our melanated skin and Islam has too often been pushed under the carpet or trivialised.
InshaAllah by sharing these posts, I’ll be able to help black Muslims that may be feeling the same way.
This post was inspired by #BlackandMuslininBritain for Black History Month.