“Nonsense.” That is what people say when I accuse them of being racist. Their argument goes something like this: “Muslims are not even a race, so how the hell could I even be racist? You’re an idiot.” Because Muslims are not a race, people believe that any type of violence or oppression directed towards them cannot be racially motivated; that this form of hatred – known as Islamophobia – cannot be racism.
First, let me be clear. It is true that Muslims are not a race. The word “Muslim” itself connects to followers of Islam, a world religion – not a “race.” Muslims are a diverse religious grouping, and, in fact, one of the most heterogeneous populations in the world. In theory, the ummah – or global Muslim community – is made up of many “races.” Moreover, not all Muslims are simply born “Muslim,” like people are born White or Black. Muslim identity is something that one can acquire through conversion. In this sense, Muslim identity is nurtured and not natured.
Since I am focusing on the subject of identity and race, let me extend this discussion to other social groupings.
If Muslims are not a race, than which group is? Some people might immediately point to Black people, and say, “that is definitely a race. Look at their skin color.” But, to be exact, Black people are not a race either. Neither, for that matter, are White people.
Okay, now you might wonder about Jewish people? Certainly they are a race, right? Science proves they – like White and Blacks – are not a race either.
And what about Asians? Are they a race?
Nope. Asians are not a race.
The Indigenous People of America, a race?
Nope, not a race.
You see, there is no such thing as race or races, traditionally understood.