The M Word seeks to elevate, amplify, and celebrate the contributions of Muslim Americans to our country’s varied and inspiring cultural landscape. To help us, we are inviting audience members, online followers, panelists, and others—both Muslims and non-Muslims alike—to share their personal experiences with what it means to be Muslim in America. 

Today, we share Bayan Abubakr’s story on being a Muslim in America. The piece is Abubakr’s response to The M Word’s questionnaire

Do you identify as a Muslim? Or have you been identified as a Muslim? If yes, please tell us about it.

Yes! Only identified as a Muslim with a hijab. Being black doesn’t necessarily lead to most identifying me as a Muslim. In most people’s understandings of Islam, I think my blackness negates my Islam.

Describe what it means to be Muslim in America.

Being Muslim in America means that practicing your faith is a political art and that being Muslim now is inherently political. I also think that a large part of it is having to exist and navigate through various understandings of Islam and learning to tell our story through that.

Given the current climate and public discussions about Muslims in America, what responsibility do you feel you have to the larger conversation?

I think that I have a responsibility to speak out about my experiences, especially since I am at such a unique and nuanced position as a black Muslim woman, to share a story that isn’t really talked about.

We want to hear your stories! For the chance to be featured by The M Word, submit your own video story with us on Facebook or submit your story in writing here. By submitting your story, you grant PEN America the right to use all still and motion pictures and sound recordings you provide in furtherance of its nonprofit charitable mission, including the right to advertising, promotion, and future marketing of PEN America and its activities via radio, television, video, DVD, the Internet, podcasts, PEN America publications, or any other use, by any means now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, throughout the universe. 

The M Word is generously supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art’s Building Bridges program.