What Being a Muslim Activist is Really Like

Three major life lessons from Instagram’s most inspiring activist

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At only 25-years-old, Blair Imani is changing what it means to be a modern influencer. Not only is Imani a queer African-American Muslim activist, but an ardent feminist, Executive Director of feminist organisation ‘Equality for HER’ and the author of must-read book, Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Non-binary People Rewriting History.

The young activist is also a strong voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, gaining repute online for protesting the shooting of Alton Sterling and Executive Order 13769. Needless to say, Imani is nothing short of inspiring, so we compiled three major life lessons we learned from her.

Acts of kindness speak louder than violence

In the aftermath of Alton Sterling’s shooting, Imani took part in a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While peacefully protesting, she was arrested and later detailed her encounter with Baton Rouge SWAT officers, who verbally and physically threatened her. Less than a week after her arrest, Imani fought the violence by organising a mass-vigil with the Louisiana State University Student Body Association in response to, and in honour of, the murder of three Baton Rouge police officers. In an article in the weekly Louisiana newspaper The Advocate, she said, “All violence is wrong,” and that she is against all brutality, including violence against police officers.

Look at the bigger picture

Just because Imani’s activism is rooted in human rights, doesn’t mean activism in the arts should be discredited. At Cannes, Imani famously spoke in an interview about how it is essential for fashion brands to embrace inclusivity. Imani interpreted this from the side of the consumer, by stating to Variety, “The honest truth is that when a company embraces the communities that already purchase their items, that community is going to feel even more inspired and even more loyal and dedicated to the brand”.

Have faith

Imani converted to Islam in 2015, gaining precedence to her faith by speaking out during the run up to the US’s 2016 presidential election, relating the intersection of Black and Muslim identity and its political contestation in the US. She later expanded this talk, delivering it at Harvard and twice on television, advocating safe spaces on college campuses for Muslims, LGBT people, and other minorities. Against what is deemed social protocol, Imani has no reserve in politicising her faith and speaking out about it through the medium of political activism, in order to facilitate safe practice of faith for those who have received similar discrimination in the US.

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