As a Muslim woman academic of color who is pretty good at public speaking and who is not a shrinking violet, I’ve often found myself drafted into service as the Face and Voice of various endeavors, organizations, and institutions.
I get drafted as the Face and Voice of various endeavors because I rock. But often, less talented male colleagues imply that it’s because I’m female/Muslim/a POC/pretty.
I’m female/Muslim/a POC/pretty, yes. But I also rock. I work hard.
In mainstream (predominantly White and predominantly non-Muslim) academic institutions, this has meant that I have served as a dash of color, a sprinkle of exotic faith practice, and a flash of academic talent and brilliance – just before I’m shoved out the door because I’ve served my purpose. (Check out my resume. You’ll see which institutions I’m talking about.)
At times this also means that in Muslim and predominantly non-Muslim settings, I have to do more, because I have to speak and shake hands with people and confer legitimacy on the host/endeavor. (Check out our resident vibrant Muslim immigrant female! Listen to her speak accentless English! How awesome are we!)
It also means that in certain conservative religious settings, I’m irrelevant because I’m not enough of a shrinking violet. At the Mosque Open House, I’m great. At the Friday prayer, not so much.
At times, too, once I’ve done more by way of lending Face and Voice to an endeavor, I’ll hear snide comments from male colleagues – who have been sitting idly in the peanut gallery – about how I surely don’t mind providing my pretty female Face and Voice to the endeavor, do I?
To those male colleagues, I present my most prized ability, one I share with Dave here: