I think that this chapter is about how Muslims felt misrepresented by the media in the United States, often feeling judged and stereotyped as “terrorists”. This chapter described how Muslims were able to reclaim their stories and reframe how they were portrayed by creating their own forms of media and creating online communities where they could interact with each other and express themselves as Muslim Americans.
5 Key Ideas
- Muslims, particularly Muslim youth have struggled with expressing themselves in the media or online, in this post 9/11 world, where their content will often be criticized and harshly judged through a lens of discrimination and fear.
- Many Americans have the false belief that all Muslims are dangerous or terrorists. The majority of Muslim youth report feeling a sense of fear and are scared that they will be discriminated against. They are also scared of violence or hate crimes that are sadly common in America against Muslims.
- There have been many different projects in recent years, particularly post 9/11 that aimed to reframe the narrative of what it means to be a Muslim in America. One extremely popular project was called 30 Mosques which involved two young American Muslim men who went on a journey to visit 30 different mosques during the month of Ramadan and blog about everything they experienced. Their online blog was extremely popular. These forms of media are important to those who are a member of the Islamic religion, because they are not represented in a positive light in mainstream media.
- Not only have Muslims dealt with criticism from Americans who fear them, but they also can face criticism from other Islamic people within their religion. They can be criticized if what they post online isn’t considered moral or representative of the Islamic principles. Once someone states they are Muslim, others will expect them to fully represent a perfect example of the Muslim faith on the internet.
- Muslim youth have found ways to use the media to express who they truly are and find identities as American citizens who are also proud followers of Islam. Many young Muslims are using new forms of media to find each other, explore their faith, and discuss topics that their mosques and formal American media organizations may not condone. For example, through being anonymous on blogs online, Muslim teenagers were able to discuss and debate topics such as homosexuality, sexuality, and religion.
These memes are examples of how Muslims can use jokes and memes to take ownership of the stereotypes that they are faced with and share them with fellow Muslims to relate to each other and make it funny.
Muslims online have used humor as a way to overcome the stereotypes that they are judged based on. By making jokes about situations like going through airport security and the idea that all Muslims are “terrorists”, they are not allowing those stereotypes to bring them down and they are taking away the power from those who attempt to discriminate and diminish them.
One example of Muslims owning their own narratives is through YouTube videos. The Muslim sisters who made YouTube videos faced public scrutiny by being themselves and broadcasting the fact that they were Muslim on their YouTube channel. These sisters were named Mo and Nash known on YouTube as the HijabiBengaliSisters. They use their videos as a way to address topics Muslims deal with such as dating in the Muslim faith and fasting during Ramadan. People were very critical of their YouTube videos because they believed they weren’t being good Muslims or good Muslim role models. They criticized them for what they wore and how they behave, which led them to make a YouTube video called “Muslim Critics”.
Can you think of other minority groups in the U.S. who have had to find their own ways to use media to express themselves and connect with others in their group?
Can you think of other groups besides Muslims who can be really critical of those who say they are a member of the group online?