Confronting Internalized Islamophobia

This essay was published on, which is an excellent resource on Muslim affairs.

Last semester, I was teaching Roxane Gay’s essay “Peculiar Benefits” to a class of college freshmen. Following Gay’s lead, I asked my students to reflect critically on their own lives, on when they benefited from certain forms of privilege and when they didn’t. Unsurprisingly, my students pointed out many intelligent things, such as how English-language skills and physical ability are often unacknowledged as forms of privilege. What surprised me was what all the Muslim students listed not as a privilege but as a source of marginalization: being Muslim.

My students are on to something. Being  Muslim American today means dealing with a president who recently expanded his travel ban to six new countries, all of which have sizable Muslim populations. Being Muslim American today means worrying if your own house of worship will be attacked by a white supremacist, as happened in New Zealand, and in states across America. Being Muslim American means belonging to a faith community that, according to the research, endures the highest levels of religious discrimination in the country today.

In other words, being Muslim means confronting an Islamophobia that is real, that is part of American government policy, and that can even be deadly. With this sober reality, you might assume that American Muslims  would be unified in collective opposition to the dangerous bigotry that is Islamophobia.

New research, however, puts this notion into question. According to a study by the Institute for Social and Political Understanding (ISPU), a research organization that studies American Muslims in depth, Muslim Americans can themselves be Islamophobic.

The findings are as interesting as they are unexpected….

Read the rest here.

Leave a Reply