Post #1: Being Muslim and Being Black

On the corner of Alexander Avenue lies the Masjid Ebun Abass. From the outside, it looks like an abandoned store-front, with a lock on the main door. Going in for the first time can be an intimidating experience. You are greeted with questioning glances, which are natural if you are new into an intimate community and are carrying around a camera. The inside is a small but homely space. The men’s and the women’s sides are securely separated by a curtain partition. The men’s side is filled with chatter in a host of different languages. There is usually a group of men hurdled on one side, some lying around or reading the Quran. Sometimes, there are children jumping and playing around. The women’s side is a different story. The entry to the women’s side is tucked away in a corner. It is darker and quieter. A couple of women are sitting there, mostly keeping to themselves. Some praying, some reading.

After seeking permission to take pictures, I was introduced to a community member who was around my age and walked me around the mosque and gave me details about the neighborhood. The mosque caters to a community of Muslims, primarily from West Africa, in the south of Bronx. A majority of the community members are from Gambia. Most people in the mosque communicated in Mandingo. What I found particularly interesting here was that English was not a medium of communication among the older community members and most of them spoke little-to-no English. The mosque seemed to function as a self-sufficient ecology detached from the rest of New York.

Unfortunately, despite this sense of self-contained detachment and warmth, this community has been under threat for the past couple of years. Although African-Americans make up 25% of all Muslims in America, they are often overlooked when discussing the Muslim community. The intersectionality of being black and being Muslim makes the members of this community particularly vulnerable. Increasing Islamophobia and anti-muslim rhetoric in America coupled with the low-economic status and racism puts this group at risk, economically and socially.

-Vrinda Anand

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~ by va1997 on February 17, 2019.

2 Responses to “Post #1: Being Muslim and Being Black”

  1. 2) Most Affective
    I like how actual data and descriptive language is combined to explain the duality and density of the ecology. I especially like the first paragraph where you introduce the location and its sound and space.

  2. Most informative – I liked the detailed background about who is visiting this Mosque because it points to an unconscious picture we might have in our mind about what the members of this religious space.

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