It has been about two weeks since I was in Philly for the Muslim Wellness Foundation: Black Muslim Psychology Conference. I have battled with my self as to how I wanted to write this. Do I write a love letter; thanking Sister Kameelah, and all the others who put together this conference? Do I do a long, long, post about every single thing I saw and heard and felt that weekend? What do I say, and how to say how much I got from the Black Muslim Psychology Conference? I guess I should apologize to those who want to know about sessions. Especially about the Imam Session or others that I may have tweeted on Twitter. I may do another post about individual things later. For now, I just want to reflect on the essence of BMPC 2017.
For me, to begin, I feel I should share what I think, is the best embodiment of what that weekend became to me,
“ This is your ICNA. This, is your ISNA”.
As a Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Muslim Woman; life has been hard these past few years. Not that life in this country for all of those identities has not always been hard. But the constant exhaustion that we are now forced to carry is now elevated, with the advent and saturation of social media. Black death and Black bodies are constantly splayed across our screens. Videos, showing rampant injustices in our systems of policing, law, and society. It has always been hard to be a minority; but somehow lately it’s become even harder.
I remember one day being in my office and the news of another Black death was all over my Twitter and Facebook timelines. It’s heartbreaking, but I can’t remember who had died; it has become that many. To the point that the times and places are blurring together for me. I remember becoming so heavy, with the weight of all the grief. I shut off my laptop and sat in the dark of my office. I must have stayed there for two hours. In the dark, in the depths of my feelings. Eventually only leaving to grab the ice cream I keep in my office kitchen. The trauma that our community is in is thick; like swimming in peanut butter. Impossible.
Flash forward to when I meet Khaled Beydoun. He had come to speak at my University. He asked me if I was coming to BMPC in a few months. I had honestly never heard of it. I initially thought it was for those who were in the psychology field so I thought to brush it off. But Khaled was so passionate about it and told me to look into it. I did. And I am so glad for it.
The Conference this year was titled, “Leading with Compassion” and was everything I didn’t know I needed. Beyond the breakout sessions and the insight, I gained. Beyond the food and the things, I bought at the bazaar. I needed to be in that space because of all of its beautiful Black Muslim-ness.
Oh, how I needed to be surrounded by those who I can call my own. Men and women who looked like me; and the ones I love. There were so many types of Blackness in attendance. From all over the diaspora. African, West Indian, Afro Latino, African American.So much beautiful Blackness. In all of the ways we show up, and show out. There were so many things that seem so small, but mattered so much. For one, there were all denomination and types of Muslims. Nation of Islam, Ahmadiyya, Sunni, Shi’ite, Wahabi, etc. When we prayed, people were foot to foot and shoulder to shoulder. No divisions. Just lots of Black love.
There were all the head wraps in creation. Geles, Erykah Badu wraps, long Philly style khimars, all of it. All of the way we Black women, especially Black Muslim women, wrap our hair were present. There were jokes. When things didn’t start on time we laughed. We know what CP time is.
There was poetry and song. When I tell you the spoken word that was done, had everyone standing on their feet and fierce clapping, tears streaming, I need you to understand. It was powerful. I’ll share a snippet with you all. This young sister. Amazing.
There were Black owned businesses. Selling to us, by us. There was bean pie. Would it really be Black and Muslim without it? I doubt it.
This weekend was so healing for me. I wish I could have done and seen more. Even thought I didn’t get to do it all, it was enough. This weekend was so special. You don’t realize how much baggage you carry with you, until someone says, “Here, set that down for a minute”.
I encourage all of you, come. It’s important. If you’re not Black, you come too. Come as an ally and know you are coming to be apart, but not to take up space. We want you here, but don’t try to out speak us. Respect the space. It’s sacred. And very, very, Black.