“Why is a Black woman on your book cover?” asked the middle-aged, South Asian woman, shortly after I finished lecturing at an event in Michigan. The woman posing the question was a Muslim, as was the young lady featured on the cover of my book, American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, manifesting a dissonance about how Muslim identity is perceived, and misperceived, beyond and even within Muslim American communities.
The narrow racial framing of Muslim identity, deeply embedded in the American imagination and still potent today, not only converges with the rising tide of anti-Muslim animus we now understand and know as Islamophobia – but indeed, an integral part of it. Islamophobia in the United States is, in great part, a racial project, spawned by a master discourse that drove European supremacy and today powered by popular views and state policy seeking to safeguard its domestic progeny, white supremacy.
By Khaled A Beydoun is a law professor, and author of American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear.