This post was written by guest contributor Nur Laura Caskey.
This article is not meant as a statement, but as a question. A very long, multidimensional question, but one that I feel is pertinent and needed. It is also meant partly as a supplement to my own fear-driven inability to act in the moment to contest injustice, and to briefly reveal how privilege and oppression can be kept in place through the appropriation of the methods of hegemony.
It strikes me, again and again, how often discourses around Muslims in America tend to follow defensive reactionary lines that re-appropriate racialized notions of Muslims. Looking specifically at the case of women, issues pertinent to women who also follow Islam in one way or another are classified mainly as “Muslim issues” in a way that appears to support a binary by which a Muslim woman is affected solely by “Muslim issues” and not the cloud of other intersecting factors other than religious identification that also shape her identity in a society. On my side, I would like to provide an example to counter this trend, and to begin examining what being a Muslim woman in America means by using the theory of “intersectionality“: per Patricia Hill Collins, the “interlocking systems of oppression” (e.g., race, class, gender, sexuality) that work in tandem rather than singularly to affect the life situations and life chances of individuals.
Recently I got a crash course in the reality of this as I took a train, alone, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Los Angeles, California. As a woman, even one who could be called “White,” traveling alone I face obstacles, stresses, and dangers not inherent in travel for a man – but as a woman wearing a scarf that could potentially identify me as Muslim, these obstacles, stresses, and dangers become palpably increased. [Read more...]