Ibtihaj Muhammad won’t let the president’s hateful rhetorical and policies against Muslims and people of color silence her.
Shortly before receiving the M.A.D. Girls honor at Black Girls Rock!, which aired on Tuesday, the Olympic fencer told HuffPost that it’s important for her to use her voice as a black, Muslim woman. Muhammad, who made history in 2016 when she became the first hijabi to compete in an Olympic event, said that her journey couldn’t have come at a better time.
“It’s been a difficult year but at the same time, to be in this space, to be a source of inspiration for those who look like me and even those who don’t look like me again I feel very honored and I feel like it’s a blessing,” she told HuffPost. “It’s like a badge of honor that I wear very proudly and I hope to reach as many youth as I can cause I genuinely feel like their our future.”
The United States has had a negative perception of Muslims for a while now have been, but Trump’s election and calls for a travel ban have emboldened white supremacists and Islamophobists like never before.
“People are painting us, as African Americans, in a poor light, painting us as Muslims in a terrible light and it is up to us to show people... we’re not all the negative things that you think we are,” she said.
The bronze medalist said that black and Muslim representation is critical for combatting negative stereotypes and reclaiming their narrative.
“It’s about us stepping into the light and saying this is who we are and you can either take it or leave it,” she said. “We don’t really care either way and just [we are] being complete badasses.”