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 feature a video by Rebecca Hankins on what it means to be Muslim in America today.



“For me it means sometimes struggling to make myself and what I’m about known to people. So being Muslim in America is sometimes problematic, not so much for me, but in terms of my work, in terms of my profession, my personal life, and people understanding who I am and not making assumptions. And I work in a very conservative environment, so it’s also making people understand who Muslims as a whole are. I find myself often times being the representation of Islam, and it’s really surprising because one of the first things I always ask students when I talk to large groups is when they think of Islam do they think of this African-American Muslim woman? and invariably they always say no. But it’s been my goal to make people understand that Islam is extremely vast and diverse and, especially as an African-American Muslim woman, that our representation is important and that people understand that it is all of us. And that I’m just as Muslim as the next person and their idea of who Islam is.”

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.