By Yasmin Adan
The Black Migrant narrative is an often under-represented and oversimplified area of discussion. This vast category of history constitutes a large part of British history today. The Black British community played a strong part in developing Britain, particularly after the World War Two. Even today, the Black community provides a large asset to the country through our diverse cultures and businesses.
However, as well as the diverse influences the Black community has had on British culture, we can not discuss the Black migrant narrative without referring to the many trials and tribulations the older generation faced. From everyday racism to cold and brutal violence, the path to carve out the opportunities and successes we have today, was not an easy one. Many of us can turn to our grandparents or even our parents to hear stories of darker times in Britain. I recall my mother telling me of various male members of our family who were severely beaten in broad daylight in public spaces for no other reason than the shade of their skin. Although the violence was a hugely traumatic experience for the Black migrant community, it would become part of a much larger collective struggle.
Everyday basics like seasoning that are essential in many Black households were not native to the UK, and were difficult, if not impossible to come by. The climate, clothing, and socialising were aspects of life that were difficult to adjust to. This is a very rough sketch of the Black migrant struggle, however, there are further under-represented and unheard voices within this group; those of the Muslim community within the Black migrant experience. For the Black Muslim community, it was not just racism from the white English population, it was also from other fellow Muslims who were not black. It was not just everyday racism, it was a hatred fuelled by both racism and Islamophobia. The complex identity of Black Muslims meant that their struggle was also different in many ways. It was not just finding food that satisfied their taste buds and reminded them of home, it was travelling from South London to West in search of finding meat that was halal and being determined not to compromise their religion.
Within this minority community, it was the Black Muslim woman who stood out the most. It is she who walked the streets dressed in a way that distinguished her from the rest of her Black community. She dressed in a way that composed both her colourful culture and her religious identity. For this reason, it was she who was arguably the most vulnerable and as I have come to learn the most resilient. Despite all the daily threats, she endured and raised her family, worked, and most importantly, passed down these characteristics through the generations.
As the narrative of the Black Muslim woman is given a wider platform to have our voices heard, it is important that we always reflect on the dedication it took to be where we are today. So whether you are a Black Muslimah or you know one, this article is only slightly touches upon how the resilience of Black Muslim women has ensured the survival and prosperity of our community.
What is essentially required then, is further recognition and appreciation of the Black Muslim narrative within the wider narrative of the Black community. How many occasions within history can you recall a lack of, or complete erasure of the Black Muslim experience? As a global community of Black Muslims, what can or should we do to ensure we are heard?