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Thu Feb 21, 2019, 10:59 PM

Hate In 3 Dimensions: The Challenge Of Being A Black Muslim Woman In America

Scrolling through the headlines and tweet storms earlier this month calling Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) an anti-Semite for comments she tweeted about pro-Israel lobbying efforts, Margari Aziza Hill felt a familiar sense of dread and a twinge of fear. A black Muslim woman like Omar, Hill saw her own experience reflected in the attacks on the freshman representative. But she kept her feelings quiet.

“I have to be so careful in my words when speaking about the oppression that I experienced and also the racism that I’ve experienced,” said Hill, the co-founder and managing director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, a human rights organization that provides racial justice education and training to various Muslim communities.

Hill knows first hand how hard it is for many Americans to have conversations confronting racism and xenophobia.

Omar’s controversial tweets drew the ire of both Democrats and Republicans as anti-Semitic. The congresswoman has since “unequivocally apologized” for the tweets in a statement posted to Twitter.

“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity,” Omar wrote.

Hill immediately wanted to speak out against the racist commentary online, but her friends and family discouraged her, fearing the attacks Omar endured would then target her. “It’s very scary. From the doxing [that happens] against black Muslim women who speak out to the physical threats that we face. Those [concerns] are real,” she said.

Omar is the first Somali-American elected to Congress. She is also one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress and the first hijabi congresswoman. But alongside those milestones, Omar has had to deal with an onslaught of bigotry targeted at her race, religion or gender — and sometimes all three. As a black Muslim woman, and one in the public eye, Omar is a frequent target of xenophobia, racism and sexism ― from conspiracy theories about her Somali family to online harassment by elected representatives.

But others like her say her experience is one they personally know all too well. Speaking to HuffPost, black Muslim women described feeling assaulted by hatred across three dimensions, including anti-black racism, blatant sexism and anti-Muslim sentiment.


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