#Strollingseries – Being black and Muslim

There is a really interesting short documentary series by Cecile Emeke called #Strollingseries. The makers take a stroll (in Dutch ‘wandelen’):

The Series — #strollingseries

‘Strolling’ is a short documentary film series created by Cecile Emeke where we take a stroll with people in various cities and countries around the world, having refreshingly raw and honest conversations about various issues at the forefront of their society. We touch on everything from feminism, sexuality, gender, race and politics to philosophy, art, history, capitalism, war and poverty and everything else you can think of.

I have been thinking about posting the films before, but it is the second episode that triggered me as relevant for our work and in particular for our thinking about developments among Muslims, racialisation, securitization and secularism.

In this episode we see Abdirashid talking about being black and being Muslim and addressing the issue of racialization. He seems to limit the issue of racialization of Muslims to the idea that Muslims are regarded (by others or also by Muslims?) as Arabs and/or people of colour. The contempt against Muslims, islamophobia or anti-Muslim hate, cannot be separated from the idea that we are talking about people of colour. This is an important comment very relevant for dealing with islamophobia and reflecting about the relation with (anti-black) racism.

I do think however that the issue of racialization is more than what Abdirashid mentions explicitly in his remarks about racialization although it is present in the short documentary in more subtle ways. In the way dominant groups in society, including policitians, policy makers and opinion makers, regard Muslims and Islam there is almost no relation to what an individual Muslim actually says or does. The social category of Muslims is imposed upon people based upon generalized stereotypical thinking about people with a ‘different culture’ and/or ‘different religion’; meaning different what is regard as typically Dutch. And with the former often attributing negative qualities to groups of people while the latter is upholding an idealized vision of Dutch society and Dutch identity.

In many debates and policies people are not concerned with the many different cultural and religious trends as they are debated and lived by Muslims throughout the world (or only the Netherlands). A generalizing definition of Islam and Muslims instrumentalizes Islam and Muslims in the purpose of integration, anti-radicalisation or mobilisation of voters; it serves the interests of the political elite trying to maintain the status quo or trying to challenge that status quo. The construction of such a category with often imposing particular unchanging qualities to people in the interest of the status quo or for political purpose, can be seen a racialization of the category of religion (Islam) itself.

Of course the video is about much more, so see and hear Abdirashid’s words for yourself:

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