Personal stories can be a powerful catalyst for change – challenging stereotypes, building bridges, and inspiring action. In a country as diverse and complex as the United States, the identities of Muslim Americans remain layered and contested. We all have stories to tell: stories that deserve to be collected, conserved, and celebrated.
“Muslim American Journeys” is a MALA program produced in partnership with NPR’s StoryCorps and the Library of Congress, providing a platform for Americans of Muslim heritage to share their individual stories. By sharing a diverse range of narratives and experiences, “Journeys” aims to document oral history, inspire pride, and celebrate individuality. Every story recorded is officially archived in the Library of Congress, and outstanding stories are featured on National Public Radio.
“Starting out, there weren’t many South Asian or Muslim role models in entertainment to look up to. When I entered this industry, I always hoped to achieve even a little of what Spike Lee did in bringing issues of my community and others to the forefront in entertaining ways.”
“So now, I am a queer women and trans rights activist, a thinker, a sexuality workshops facilitator, and a fashion designer. I’m a complex human. But I am also just a regular person in search of belonging, love and purpose.”
“Trying to figure out who I am as a person and understand my identity has been difficult. You know trying to combine being mixed, with being Muslim, with being female has been hard. I don’t really feel like all of these labels or categories fit with who I am all the time.”
“I remember in the first few days of my life in the US, I was given advice from an American business consultant. He told me, ‘You might be offended by what I say, but I’m giving you this advice to help you.’ His advice was to not put the name Mohammed as part of my legal name in the US.”
“I hope to be voted as Maxim’s Finest, as it would send a strong signal of empowerment to women around the world, who come from a similar background as me. My mission is to inspire women no matter where they are born to break out of their chains of oppression, pursue their dreams and realize their full potential.”
“One project that I was really invested in when I was home was doing research about honor killings; finding out about cases, and why they happened, and where they happened, and looking through different newspaper reports.”
“The issues that hit home for me are de-radicalization among youth, women’s rights, child sexual abuse and LGBTQ rights…My biggest challenge has been reconciling my work [on these issues] with the culture that I come from.”
“Sometimes these facets of my identity would mesh into a confusing amalgam, and sometimes they would rest peacefully together. These students made me realize just how much an effective teacher could do. They made me reevaluate the meaning of being an educator.”