Tag Archives: I Speak For Myself

The Racialicious Review of I Speak For Myself + D.C. Event Notice!

By Arturo R. García

I Speak For Myself is a collection about connections: the spiritual to the secular. The public self to the private. One community to another. The point is perhaps made most clearly by Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq in her essay, “Half and Half”:

After all, I am made up of two parts: my Muslim and American identities. My Muslim identity defined half of my personality, character and individuality, while the other half has been determined by my experience growing up as an American. The balance of the two makes me who I am: an American woman who has discovered her hijab is the greatest beauty secret of all.

Though the contributors’ professions and locations are diverse, some commonalities emerge in the stories shared here: curiosity, confusion (usually some variant of the question, “Oh, you’re really from America?”), and the spectre of Islamophobia that flared up in earnest after the Sept. 11 attacks: “We felt our very identity as Americans was being subjected to scrutiny, challenge, and contestation,” writes Washington Post contributor Hadia Mubarak.
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On Shelves Now: I Speak For Myself, Featuring Fatemeh Fakhraie

By Arturo R. García

It is frustrating and disappointing to catch hell in mainstream society for being Muslim and also within the Muslim community for being African-American. When I am not perceived as an oppressed Muslim woman in need of liberation, I am seen as an ignorant and potentially unruly black woman.
– Jameelah Xochitl Medina, PhD candidate and author, excerpted from I Speak For Myself (via The Christian Science Monitor)

At a time when America’s Muslim communities are constantly under scrutiny by both the media and political figures, I Speak For Myself is an especially relevant – and especially necessary – work.

Edited by Maria Ebrahimji, an executive producer for CNN, and Zahra Suratwala, a writer and business consultant based out of Chicago, ISFM is a collection of 40 essays by American Muslim women. And I’m pleased to no end to report that among them is our friend, recognized badass and editor of Muslimah Media Watch, Fatemeh Fakhraie, whose essay was highlighted in MMW’s own review of the book:

Perhaps put most intimately by Fatemeh is the theme of longing for the country of our parents as a means to getting closer to our identity. She writes,

“Searching for himself and a better life drew Baba away from the Islamic Republic of Iran; searching for myself and my roots draws me nearer to it. Yet in reality, it is not the republic I am drawn to. Rather, I am trying to get nearer to my father through this land where my ancestors are buried.”

Other reoccurring themes include birth names, balancing hyphenated identities, the need to be validated by both Americans and Muslims and, of course, hijab.

While these themes seem to be woven, to some extent, into each narrative, the narratives themselves are varied in scope.

We’ll have more on ISFM in the coming days, but for now, we want to encourage you to order the book here.