Making Room: An exercise in bigger tables and more opportunities
There have been a lot of changemakers working really hard for a really long time. In the time it took some of us to get our heads up out of the deep end of child making and rearing, a revolution took place and we are on our first lap around the track. What we see, now that we can think straight for the first time in the better part of a decade, is that Muslim American women have struck chords and made their own spaces. It’s remarkable to see what the younger generation, and many members of our own, have done in less than 10 years.
A lot of this can be attributed to the exponential growth of social media and devices, but the majority of the work has been done by the devices of Muslim American women themselves. It’s not really a chicken and the egg situation: from blogging or vlogging about food, fashion, family, beauty, and mental health, these women have grown into social media via their groundbreaking, eye-opening written or spoken word and made their way into the homes and hearts of America. They newer generation appears to have been able to skip the “old” route because they’ve been born into the social media buzz and so what we know of their thoughts is what they share directly there. Because we are a podcast about women, we recognize the women first, but are fully aware that Muslim men are out there doing great things, too.
We’re also not discussing the pros and cons of what Muslim American women are doing. Just the positive effects of it are worth mention, the fruits of which we can see in the election of the first pair of Muslim American federal lawmakers. While growing up in America was awesome 35-40 years ago when diversity was celebrated and appreciated, it was hard to grow up without representation in written or visual media. Now we have so much and that is a good thing, in our opinion, even if it sparks difficult conversation and soul searching. Our kids can turn on a YouTube channel or read a book from the SCHOOL library to see people who look like them, are named like them, and live like them. This was unheard of when we were growing up, and it’s a gift. Representation matters.
With this growth of American Muslim women representing us, we have so many more resources to tune into for our specific American Muslim needs. Whether it’s another YouTube channel, podcast, blog, or social media account, there’s something for everyone, and often, more than one perspective on it. This is also a good thing. One way is not always the right way, and options are good. Gone are the days of dogma and blind pursuit of the only thing available because there WERE no options before. Added to that is the benefit of having special focus resources catering to our specific needs: homeschooling special needs, school schooling special needs, mindful ‘ibaadah, mindful parenting, parenting, parenting and working, traveling, traveling single, traveling with kids, cooking with allergies, cooking with THAT allergy ...it's terrific! The fact is, not only did the pioneers in this new era of information build their own table, the ones pulling up now are just expanding the size of it. Everyone is pulling up to share what she knows or has experienced, or wants to get to know better. And anytime she can is a good time. The more we learn in real life, the more we each bring to the table, which didn’t exist before.
What is so very heartening about it is that the majority of those seated are ready to pull up a chair for her sister to sit down, too. Times have changed for the better, and we’re so excited to join the party. Better late than never.
- Uzma Jafri