Haleema Shah on Being a Muslim Journalist in a Time of Hateful Rhetoric Towards Muslims
Nov 19 2018
TRUSTED ADVICE FROM EXPERIENCED LEADERS
WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION PRODUCER/HOST HALEEMA SHAH ON BEING A MUSLIM JOURNALIST IN A TIME OF HATEFUL RHETORIC TOWARDS MUSLIMS
Being a journalist when hate crimes against Muslims and anti-Semitic hate crimes are spiking isn’t easy. I didn’t think it would be. I started seeing constant coverage of hate crimes against Muslims at age 8 (when 9/11 happened), so it’s not a surprise to me that there are people in the world who are angry and want to hurt people. That may sound negative at first, but it’s also just a reality of our world.
I remember being 8 years old, a Muslim kid, going to this private Islamic school and seeing camera crews on the playground. Local news stories like, “Muslims, they’re just like us! They’re kids! They play on the playground, too!”
I get where it was coming from… there was suddenly this huge interest in Muslims. But it was also frustrating to be the kid on the playground wondering why I was this specimen to be examined. Why was this sooo novel to some people?
It’s this feeling like… there are not enough of us in this field, and there are not enough of us being examined in an intimate way. We’re being examined in this distant, far off way.
I saw our story covered by the media in two different angles: The “They’re just like us, so what’s the deal with terrorism?” or “Why do women dress that way?” I decided that we needed to be understood as people who like fashion, have heartbreaks, and have our own professional struggles and dreams. I wanted to be part of that effort to cover Muslims and immigrant communities in a more multifaceted way.
Check out Haleema Shah’s advice on using your dreams to orient you.
Building Brave is the Mobile Mentoring App for Women