When you hear the word “Muslim”, what comes to mind? Think about it for a second. Take all the time you need, I’ll wait.
You probably made a small list of things that ranged from the minister Louis Farrakhan, Malcom X and maybe even the events of September 11th, 2001. In general, today, many Americans believe practitioners of this faith believe Muslims are the country’s number one enemy. This belief couldn’t be more inaccurate. Recently, we’ve witnessed a church that wanted to make a spectacle out of burning the Koran, a fiery battle brewed in New York out of resistance to build an Islamic center near ground zero and every day in smalltown, USA there are little bits of hatred demonstrated toward Muslims that will most likely never make the news.
The vast majority of us ignore the reality that terrorists are an extremist group of people who have taken the beliefs of their faith and built a new belief from it that includes murdering and torturing innocent people. To look at a woman in a burka and immediately think she is part of the Taliban is just as ridiculous as assuming all Christians want to take a match to the Koran. Don’t get me wrong. I was fuming after 9-11 when I watched images of people who practiced the Muslim faith dancing in the streets, celebrating the attack on our country. I had to take a step back and realize these images are not of all people that pracitce this belief.
Convincing Americans of all backgrounds of the history of hate and violence against different races in the U.S. is not necessarily something we have to go around proving everyday. As the government cracks down harder on terrorism, we’ll begin to see an uprising in more discrimination, more hate and one thing that never fails, more ignorance. In 2008, a student, Slma Shelbayah at Georgia State University claimed she was the subject of jokes brought on by her Professor Dr. Mary Stuckey. According to Shelbayah, after she complained about the discrimination she was told she could not continue at Georgia State University as a doctoral student. This story has the same theme of many that are happening every day in America.
As Christians, we should be able to understand the age-old concept of discrimination. As African Americans, we certainly have an obligation to help end hatred and educate those who foster ill will toward others. Ending discrimination only comes in the form of education. Once we begin to focus on the real enemy, we’ll begin to understand the importance of unity and how effective it can be to direct our energy in the right places.
Can you find it within yourself to help end discrimination even if it’s not against your race or your religion? Have you confused the war on terrorism with a war on Islam? Go ahead and think about the answer. Take all the time you need. I’ll wait…