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 Yusuf Siddiquee’s story of being a Muslim in America. The following is Siddiquee’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.

Just barely! I’m what they call “culturally” Muslim but I don’t practice much of anything, which makes the label confusing for people who associate being Muslim with specific practices.

Describe what it means to be Muslim in America.

You can relate to being unfairly singled out for having a different religion, culture, or experience. To be automatically “associated” with extremism or terrorism. But more importantly, that you are a part of a super diverse community that transcends the aforementioned categories.

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

Chime in wherever possible, especially where I have clout (i.e. with friends, family, and colleagues). Because of how diverse we are, I can’t always rely on another Muslim’s perspective to match up with mine and especially not a white man’s. So, as annoying as it is (very), I think it’s better to correct misconceptions that pop up around me.

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.