Session 4 : Video, Transcript and French Translation
BLACK OCULARS : Session Four : DECEMBER 15, 2022
Transnational geographies: gendered violence and the movement of Black women and non-binary peoples
Speakers: Arij Elmi, amber williams-king, and Mubeenah Mughal
This panel centres the intersections of disability, anti-Muslim gendered surveillance, and anti-Blackness globally and locally. Focusing on the increased prevalence of anti-Muslim violence and state legislation against Black women and non-binary people (for example, the hijab ban in Quebec), speakers will interrupt the dominant framing of disabled, Muslim and Black subjects. This brings into focus the possibilities of critical Muslim Studies and the cartographies of catastrophe and transnational migration.
SPEAKER: Recording in progress.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Hello, everybody, and good evening to Black Oculars. My name is Idil Abdillahi and my pronouns are she/her. And I'm a faculty member in the School of Disability Studies and I bring you greetings from the School of Disability Studies. On the screen, you'll see my face. I'm a black woman with a bald head. I'm wearing red lipstick, black glasses. I have on a headset, with headphones in my ears. I'm wearing a gold necklace, one with my name on it. I-D-I-L and the other one with a graph or like an imprint of the map of Africa. I'm sitting in front of a red wall and a blurred bookshelf in the background and I'm wearing a black sweater. I'm going to go ahead and mute the video so I can engage the other screen. So it's my pleasure to be here with you today and to welcome you to our fourth panel series in a series of five-panel discussions for the Black Ocular Speaker series. I will begin with the land acknowledgement. As we gather here today to listen to the speaker share their thinking, reflection and their learning from their perspectives to engage in critical discussion, we acknowledge that the School of Disability Studies is on Treaty 13 territory.
A treaty that was established between the Mississauga of the Credit river and the British Crown. We are surrounded by Treaty 13A, Treaty 20 also known as the Williams Treaty and Treaty 19. I speak to you today from the city that is currently called Toronto and the university, which are in the dish with one spoon territory, which is a territory between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Anishinaabe including allied nations to peaceably share and protect the resources around the Great Lakes. As always, the purpose of a land acknowledgement is to help us pause and recognize the territory we are on. And if you find yourself somewhere other than Toronto right now, I hope that you are able to acknowledge where you are and to acknowledge both the history and presence of Indigenous communities in the places you call home. While those of us who are not Indigenous have arrived as settlers on Indigenous territories in different ways, we also acknowledge that some of our ancestors and elders were forcibly displaced people brought here involuntarily or by force particularly those who are here as a result of the transatlantic slave trade.
We acknowledge that we are all treaty people and that we are all grateful to be working and living on this land. The School of Disability Studies as an undergraduate degree completion program with a robust record of post-doctoral studies, the school has a strong commitment to equity, justice and disability, mad and deaf people, but we are also orientated to affirmative and desirable troubling of disability madness, deafhood for all of us. Together, we bring our bodies and our minds to critically, critically reflect on the impact of surveillance, containment, public resistance and many other themes that will be discussed in this series. This panel focuses on the experiences of nonbinary people at the intersection of multiple issues, specifically Muslimness, disability, transnationality, Caribbeanness and etc. We're really excited to be hearing from our esteemed panel of speakers this evening and I'm really looking forward to that. I also would like to quickly thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, particularly the Connections program, which is afforded us the luxury of being able to bring these speakers together this evening.
A few notes on access before we begin really quickly. We have ASL interpretation here provided by the two ASL interpreters on the screen. If you'd like to see the live captioning, please click on the CC button on the screen. There are few ways for you to participate in tonight's panel. The chat box will be kept off for participants for the series. However, we encourage attendees to ask questions using the Zoom's question-and-answer feature. To use the feature, please press the question and answer button, type the question into the Q&A box. Pardon me. And click send. You can also choose to send this question anonymously by checking the box below in the typing area. We can also reply to your questions in the live chat text window as well. If in the Q&A portion of the panel you would like to speak using audio, please feel free to press the hand raise button and we will enable your microphone at the appropriate time. If you need your video on for the question, please feel free to indicate that for us as well.
In addition, we would like you to use social media today if you so desire. Please feel free to tag us @BlackOculars on Twitter and on Instagram. We are lucky to have Paula with us this evening who will be going ahead and live-tweeting the panel discussion for us again @BlackOculars at Twitter. And with that, I'd like to go ahead and welcome our first speaker this evening. Arij Elmi, who works at McMaster University in the School of Social Work. She's completed her bachelor's and master's degree in social work at the University of Windsor and is completing her doctorate in Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute of Studies and Education at the University of Toronto. She also has a certificate in critical Muslim studies from the Centre of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues and Social and Cultural Psychiatry from McGill University. Her research is focused on the intersection of race, religion, gender and violence. As an interdisciplinary scholar, she aims to bring black families, black feminist decolonial thought and critical Muslim studies into conversation with one another in order to see what the black analytic can offer to understand Muslim women subjectivities.
Broadly, she's interested in how people come to understand themselves and how these understandings bear on systems of ethnicity. Following Arij, have Mubeener Mughal, who is a mother of three boys and has been involved in many years of various feminist and social justice groups and activism. She been involved in The legal challenge of Bill 21 in Quebec and has recently had brain surgery and is still navigating being disabled in different ways in real-time in this moment. Finally, we have amber williams-king, a multidisciplinary artist and a multidisciplinary, my apologies. Antiguan artist and scholar currently living and working in Toronto. Amber, sorry. She's a graduate of, sorry. She graduated with a master's in environmental studies from York University where she explored how Caribbean politics might illuminate about moving through and beyond crisis. Her creative writing on queerness intimacy and childhoods appear in several print and digital anthologies. Over the years, she's received several grants from the Ontario Arts Council and been selected as a finalist for the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award as well as the Michael Baptiste essay prize for her paper, When Palm Trees Break the Fractured Horizons of Black Caribbean World Making a Mixed Crisis.
So please join me in welcoming all of our panel speakers today and more specifically, welcoming Arij to speak firstly. Thank you so much.
ARIJ ELMI: Wonderful. So I want to start by thanking the organizers and Dr Abdillahi for the enormous effort that it takes to organize an event like this. I'm delighted by the invitation to join the panel and to think through some of the central themes that this series has presented so far. And my hope is that my small contribution can help to expand, provide some opportunity for questions and some maybe new ways of thinking as well. So my talk tonight is going to focus on the name of the series Black Oculars, and I hope to deepen some of the connections that this provocative title implies. So Black Oculars, what does Ocular mean? According to Merriam Webster's, it is that which is done or perceived by the eye. So it relates to a visual field. It's something to do with the eye. So we have the visual vision and images, which also somehow relates to representation. But the title of the series is not only concerned with Oculars, it's Black Oculars. So it's more than just the visual. There's some connection implied between an identity category and that which we can see or experience ourselves as being seen.
And so with this simple framing, Dr Abdillahi brings our attention to the ways that the visual relates to identity because there is indeed a relation. Perhaps even a foundational one between what we can see and which identity categories we can assume for ourselves. So just to give you a bit of background as to how I'm approaching this topic, much of my current work is rooted in Lacanian psychoanalysis still Lacan being both a clinician and a French theorist of the social. And using his thinking, I try to unpack what it is we mean when we claim to belong to identity categories. And the ones that my work is more specifically concerned with our Muslimness, blackness and womanhood. So we often take the solidity of these categories for granted. And what my research shows is that making claims to these categories actually has psychic and material effects. These are not neutral things to claim. It does something to us when we say we are those things. So why do we claim identity categories? We claim identity categories in order to make ourselves feel coherent.
So that is to make meaning of ourselves and also for us to feel whole. To feel complete in some sense. And this all relates back to the visual. So when it comes to ourselves, we only have partial vision. So think about it. If I were to ask you right now to look at yourself, you can see parts of yourself, but you can never see yourself as whole. You might see your hands, your arms, etc. We need a specular object in order to perceive ourselves as being whole. So specular here meaning something reflective like a mirror or someone in my environment that I can relate to to help make sense of how I might appear to them. So it's the objects around us, including other people that can help us to give ourselves the illusion of being whole, but this sense of wholeness has alienating effects. So that is, again, I can only perceive myself as relating to that which is outside of myself. So it always takes me outside of myself to have that sense of myself. And secondly, it's important to note that something gets lost in that process.
I feel disconnected from the fragmented self that I originally perceive myself to be. So when I need those objects outside of myself, it takes me away from what my feeling is inside of my own body. So the title of Black Oculars brings to my mind the way that specular images constitute what we consider ourselves to be ourselves being the category, the identity categories that we have to assume. So if we follow this line of thinking, the very first surveillance technology that we have is actually our own. It is the mirror images that we rely on to create what we experience as a me or an I. And a me in my case is one that claims the categories of blackness, Muslimness, womanhood, and so on. So again, what's crucial to this process is the other who first points to the image. So I'm not observing myself alone. There's always someone else in this field who's closely observing the mirror with me and connecting, making that connection between the fragmented, disconnected body with the coherent and whole image that I see in the mirror.
So in Lacanian psychoanalysis, the first other is always the mother who plays that pointing role. So it's the mother who points to the mirror and says to the baby, look, that's you. And what I believe Dr Abdillahi is inviting us to consider with this title of Black Oculars, is the role that the state plays as that symbolic other, the state being the pointing other who is pointing at the mirror and that gets to define what Muslimness, blackness and womanhood are. So as a symbolic other, the state gets to determine the terms of those closed categories that one can belong to or not. So it might feel benign or even laudable when our Prime Minister embraces the language of intersectionality and intersectional categories of identity. But what a Lacanian psychoanalytic analysis helps us to consider is that there's actually a cost to it. When we accept the idea that there is such a thing as the Muslim or the black person or the woman, we limit ourselves to an alienating experience of being complete and coherent and we lose that reality of experiencing ourselves as fragmented, messy and incomplete.
We lose something in this process. And so what Black Oculars brings to mind for me is that we are constantly self-surveilling beings. Any time we claim to belong to an identity category, the effects of this, as I've said a few times now, is alienating or constructing a false self. So what can we do about this? How can we avoid the toxic constraining effects of the self-surveillance? And again, Dr Abdillahi's talk title offers us some hints. So tonight's subtitle is Transnational Geographies, Gendered Violence and the Movement of Black Women and Non-binary Peoples. So we've already established that identification always has an alienating function in the visual field. And what I want to propose now is that geographies have something for us to consider as a means for overcoming the alienating effects of identity categories. So what do we mean by geographies? Let's go back to the dictionary again. So geography is the study of surfaces, oceans, islands and natural features. So there's a specific surface that I want us to consider, and that is the surface of the self.
If we train our Black Oculars, our visual perception tools towards the surface of the self, we can better interrogate the relation between subjects and images. So there is indeed a circular relationship between the self and images. We constitute images, we produce them, but we're also constituted. We're made by them as well. And we can contrast this idea of surfaces to depth because we're not digging for a true self. We've already established that specular images produce false alienating selves for us to contend with. So we're not looking to go deep inside of ourselves for something that is true, because that's always going to leave us empty, a feeling that many of us can relate to. Rather, we can consider ourselves to be the very surface that we have been taught previously to dig beneath. If we can do this, we can collapse all of the binaries that deny that an experience of being a fragment itself. So suddenly, there is no inside or outside. There is always both. There is no self or other, there is always both.
There is no conscious or unconscious self, there is always both. There is language that I speak and language that also speaks me. So when we think of ourselves as surfaces, we can begin to think about the ways in which the human is itself an invented category. So this is something that both psychoanalytic thinking and the Caribbean philosopher Sylvia Winter encourage us to consider. So Freud, Lacan and Winter help us to collapse the distinction between nature and culture. Instead of asking to what do we owe our development, to our genes or to our environment? They help us to see that the human, our laws, our ways of being invent the very terms within which we can post such a question. So for Winter and Freud, these moments of invention have become lost. They are our lost origins. So to me, what, you know, a black ocular does is ask us to consider our construction via the visual field. And at the same time, once we consider the ways that we are prevented because even blackness itself was invented, we can interrogate the centrality of the visual to your centricity and the ongoing colonization of people around the world.
Blackness as a category of being was invented the very moment that black females were shipped across the Atlantic. In the same moment, black females were barred from the gender binary. Black females were and continue to be beyond all we can imagine as women because women can only be imagined to be white women. And so I'll stop with this last point. This excision from the binary is productive in another way. So there's still hope here. As C Riley Staunton reminds us in black on both sides, being genderless can be a space of freedom and invention. And what I will add from a psychoanalytic perspective, being genderless can be that moment of fragmentation that is much more of a genuine surface than the identitary category of a woman can otherwise provide. Thank you.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you so much for that contribution, Arij. I greatly appreciate it. I have a lot of notes written so I can hopefully engage you a little bit later on, but I'm going to invite Mubeenah to go ahead and speak next.
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: Hello?
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Hi. We can hear you just so you know.
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: OK. Thank you. Hi and thanks for having me here and for hosting this event. I'm really honoured to be asked to be here. And just excuse me. It's like the first time that I've done anything mildly intellectual, so just bear with me. And I really enjoyed what Arij I was talking about because I was kind of going to start with, you know, being a black person or black Muslim woman. You're very visible, but also invisible at the same time, you know. And what we have discussed or what was discussed, it's being other, well, always being other no matter what your other identities are. And just to say, no matter what internal work we might be doing as individuals and the education we're doing and what we see with our eyes, a lot of the things that hurt others could also be subconscious since we all do live under white supremacy or in white supremacy. Right. And that's responsible for patriarchy, all the isms and phobias. But I'll be looking specifically at Islamophobia and blackness. Those are the white supremacies responsible for the violence that is experienced by black Muslim women.
I mean, more specifically in a province that I'm from in Quebec. Black, well, all Muslim women are not able to work if they are visibly so. So that's besides being discriminated against, they're also being denied their livelihood. And. It's not seen as a problem because the reasoning is you're here and you should be like this new, you should be like all of us. So then it's seen as a choice and then it won't at the same time be seen as a discrimination or racism because, well, one, being Islam is not how the argument goes. I mean, just seeing how... And there's other laws, for example, things around gender for trans people that we're trying to be introduced in Quebec legislation. So to see how those issues are attacked on the same front, I mean, usually under the guise of like, oh, we have to save these people from themselves and the state is the person that will do that, and then they can seem like good feminists, they're saving Muslim women from being seen as less than or however people view wearing a hijab.
And I can't really speak to what the argument is against having people identify their gender in the way that they want, but at the same time, there are people that say, oh, especially when it comes to young people, they might change their minds. It's always infantilizing the persons that are the target of the discrimination as is also in ableism, right? So it's like people are always being looked after, taken care of, spoken to, but about and not consulted. So I'm sure no Muslim women were consulted. And then at the same time, even if these laws didn't exist, their existence is always challenged. There's lots of research that has been done, how if people have a Muslim-sounding name or a Black name, they will be less likely to one, even be given information about a job, let alone offered an interview if it's recognizable without being seen. This law, I mean, I'm sure everyone is against the law and everything that this embodies. So then it's turns into a huge gaslighting 'cause then it's like, OK, well, this is being done to protect society and to protect people.
And then when it comes to Blackness, it's hard to have a safe space. So as Black people, there won't be the same sense of safety, let's say, if the legal system is used to protect people, right? And then for other Muslims, they won't necessarily interact with the state in the same way as Black people. So then, again, people might be calling the police or different things and seeing that as a way to keep mosques safe or other spaces that might have Muslim people safe. And that, again, erases the presence of Black Muslims. And then at the bottom is where you will find the Black Muslim woman 'cause it's, OK, she's not spoken to in any of those spaces. And is also then forced to perhaps be dependent on others. It's not just the teaching profession. There's other jobs that are also included in the law. And so I guess the idea is either get unemployment, well, or find some other way of providing for yourself and then having to answer so many questions. And then it also being seen as a choice instead of it being seen as a part of someone's identity.
And, yeah, I was hoping that there'd be questions, so I'll have more to say after. But that is all I have to say for now. Thank you.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you so much for those comments and, certainly, I think that there'll be a number of questions. I know I certainly have many for you. I'll go ahead and welcome amber williams-king next on. Thank you, amber.
AMBER WILLIAMS-KING: Hello. Thank you so much Idil, for inviting me to participate in this panel, and my mind is also buzzing from all the really important things that have been said thus far, and I think weaves into some of the things that I've been thinking about in relationship to the topic that you presented us with. So in general, or in relationship to the research and scholarly work that I'm doing, a lot of what I think about is the ways Afro-Caribbean people experience, respond to, move through, and remember crisis, particularly as people that are part of the Black Atlantic world, living with and through legacies of Trans-Atlantic slavery and middle passage and plantation and the multiple and multiplying crises that made up and stem from these systems. The political, the social, the economic, and the ecological. Thinking about this in relation to tonight's topic makes me think about the possibility of thinking of Afro-Caribbean cultural practices as counter surveillance strategies and Afro-Caribbean spaces as disruptive of the surveilling eye of White supremacist, capitalist colonial concepts of being.
What can we learn from the ways Afro-Caribbean people talk, the ways we move, the way we feel, or emotionally respond in ways that are just a little bit off in relation to larger scripts of comportment or how to be human? And how the ways that we understand ourselves are forms of making ourselves intentionally unobservable, and illegible, and opaque, to borrow a term from Édouard Glissant. Is there value in being misunderstood and misread and mis-seen, or is there only violence and harm? Is that the only way to think about those experiences? Those are the types of things that I'm thinking about in relationship to tonight. Particularly, I was thinking about the ways Caribbean people use humor, for example, to cope with and critique crisis. We use humor to put terror in its place. A large aspect of, for example, Calypso music is using humor and satire to talk about and to talk back to systems of subjugation and oppression. And these are practices that people outside of the Caribbean community might not understand, might misrepresent, is often used to describe Caribbean people as naive or unable to fully grasp the world around them.
But there is complexity to these cultural practices and there's complexity to our way of being forever in the wake of crisis. The ability to confront catastrophe while being able to fracture and find the fractures within these structures, to bring the walls down and laugh as they collapse, to be with each other in ways that are unruly and ungovernable that challenge and defy and undo surveillance and other systems of control. I also think about a popular saying in the Caribbean, being behind God's back, and growing up on the south side of Antigua, my friends used to say that I lived behind God back. In the Caribbean this phrase is used to describe the countryside or wild unruly spaces, a place that is usually occupied by the poor and the lower class, somewhere far, far away, somewhere that's not easy to navigate or get to, not easy to detect. I also think of this phrase, being behind God's back as a way to explore queer Caribbean desire as sites of alternative world-making and being. I'm interested in the intimacy of queerness and the ways that these desires often take place in the dark in nature.
On one hand, this existing in the shadows is out of necessity, out of being forced to conceal and camouflage, but what if there's something else happening? What if the draw to nature represents something in excess of survival? Something maroon, something fugitive, something that gestures towards freedom. The kind of freedom that exploring pleasure in the dark, in nature behind God's back allows. As a teenager, curious about sex, and intimacy, and longing, living in a Christian sex-averse society with overprotective parents, living behind God's back was both a source of anxiety and possibility. Anxiety in the sense that getting out of the house was impossible. And there was a highly gendered and violent culture around how young women were supposed to act. But there came a point where the desire for something more began to outweigh this anxiety. And I searched for possibility, the kind of possibility that living in a small village in a valley near the coast in proximity to dark, lush, hidden spaces in nature that were ideal for discovering and inventing new ways of being.
I snuck out at night to fool around with others in cars, and on the grass, and on the beach, and on the sand, and in the water, fool around with others and myself, and use these spaces to define pleasure, and gender, and sex for myself. I was able to co-create myself in the dark, that I was then able to bring with me into different spaces and landscapes and terrains. I don't want to downplay or romanticize the harm that can take place in the dark, I'm more suggesting or asking what else does the dark give us? Are there other ways to understand the dark? Are there ways of organizing ourselves and our communities to subvert recognition and still be OK, to subvert the gaze and still be OK, to subvert the flash bulb and the camera lights and still be OK, to form new ways and new vocabularies of recognizing, acknowledging, honoring and being with each other? It requires a lot of different skills, and ways of being, and knowing the world, to be able to exist in the shadows. Many people, disabled, trans, and gender variant people, racialized people, poor people, the dispossessed peoples of the world are already building communities that exist in the dark, under and beyond the fences erected to keep them or us out.
And obviously, I mean, I also think that there are also consequences that come from not registering or being undetectable in society that values visuality, and representation, and tokenism, and assimilation. And there are risks and vulnerabilities to not being in the system in terms of accessing resources and services, but these are aspects of the social, political, economic system that always already leave people out and embrace us based on differences of all kinds. There are those of us who are never meant to be allowed in or to even exist. So I'm really asking what is the value of subverting these systems and existing in the dark and in the shadows and in these places? How can we organize and build with each other in these spaces in new ways that ultimately sort of disavow, and bring down, and challenge, and defy the systems that seek to sort of govern, and control, and subjugate, and oppress us? I think I'll stop there for now and wait for questions. I suppose. That's all.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you. Thank you so much for that, amber. And thank you, Mubeena, and thank you, Arij as well. I think maybe I'll just begin by inviting each of you to speak to some things that may have popped up for me as I was listening. So I guess one of the first things that comes to my mind from both, from what all three of you are saying, beginning with Arij, is questions about the human, right? And I'm almost certain that some people in this Zoom room today came for certain kinds of discussions and answers, right? So what is it about Black Muslim women and disabilities specifically? Someone wants an answer. What do they need? What do they mean? What does Arij, and Mubeena, and even amber, mean on these questions about the human? Some people may have come to this conversation today thinking that we were going to speak something into humanity. And now we're coming into questions of... Or what we're bringing forward is actually questioning some of these notions of identity, be it Blackness and drawing on the work of Riley Snorton, being on the question of human through drawing on the work of Sylvia Wynter, through drawing also on the work of Édouard Glissant, so forth.
So I want us to come back to where I live. Y'all know I live at the intersection of basic and every day, right? So I want to know how does that kind of thinking and theorizing be distilled into an everyday discussion? So Mubeena started with some of that around the day-to-day impacts of what the hijab ban means in the context of Quebec. Arij talked about seeing, visibility and invisibility. Talked about the idea of invention. Also the idea of everyday lives of Black women like you talked about, amber. So in my mind when I'm thinking about all of these things, there's swirling, a lot of swirling. So when I think about, "Oh my gosh, invention." That's great. Invention also has an implication. Those implications are things, as described by Mubeena, not working. Things like the hijab ban, things like an increased number specifically of disabled, racialized Black Muslim women, particularly losing children during childbirth. There's ideas as well about how we talked about geographies as well, which makes me think about how we don't think about the movement of people and political war as disabling.
And even for example, when I teach my students about disability and I'm talking for example about Palestine, it's hard for people to imagine how I'm making some of these links and connections. So I guess what I'm inviting us to do is to kind of step back from this, walk back from it a little bit and kind of bring people into the place where we can unpack some of these much bigger ideas. Why is the state a man and not just a man, but a White Christian man? How does that impact Black people, non-binary people, disabled people, people from multiple kinds of geographies? And then how do we link something like this to day-to-day kinds of things? How do we link this to also, like I said, I'm just quickly thinking of Hodan Hashi, young, Black, Muslim, Somali woman murdered in broad daylight in front of us out in the prairies, very limited to few conversation about this person, about what the worth of a life is. That's something that's certainly coming to my mind. There's a lot coming to my mind even as we talk about just as a Black Muslim woman, my personal and probably our region, Mubeena you may relate to this, but the simple exhaustion of conversations about Bilal, who's a Black kind of Muslim figure as an intervention to stop having conversations about the complexity of Blackness within Islam, within critical Muslim studies, within critical disability studies, and how in many ways both Blackness and disability, in some ways, can nullify Islamness, can nullify Blackness, can nullify disability.
And so here, this is mucky muck. This is what I wanna get up into and this is what I wanna invite us to talk about, as well as things about control, loss, desire, laying in the beach and going in cars. So whoever would like to go first, I wanna go ahead and invite you to join me and further your thinking. And I also see we have some questions in the chat. I'll come back to that after this invitation. It's Idil and I'm done speaking.
ARIJ ELMI: I'm not sure amber or Mubeena if you had anything to say, but I want to riff off this piece around invention, because I think there was a thread across all three talks. And I had mentioned specifically Sylvia Wynter's work. And then also I talked about how psychoanalysis is interested in the ways that the self was invented. And I kind of want to maybe talk more about how I understand this idea of invention. I do not understand it as something agential, so it's not even necessarily a conscious process. So I'm not trying to sort of confuse it with empowerment or sort of that faux empowerment that I think invention often gets understood to be. I think it happens in the dark, like amber was talking about. amber, you mentioned opacity, and this embrace of misrecognition. Those ideas really resonate with how I approach and understand invention as well. It's complicated, it's messy, it's not purely a positive thing. And then, to go back to what you were saying, around why is it that it's a white man who's in charge?
We have to consider this idea of invention as well. How it is that that category gets invented, how it is that this particular hierarchy itself gets invented? Then we understand it as being sort of less... How do I say... Like the only possibility. Those are some thoughts I want to put out, but I'm very interested in talking back with Mubeenah, and amber, and Idil.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you. Mubeenah or amber? Thank you for that. That was such a great response, Arij. That's what I wanted to say. But, Mubeenah or amber, if either of you wanna add to this, I'd love to hear from both of you.
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: Well, I got distracted by the question. I looked at the question in there, so now I forget what the original thread was. Maybe I'll just think on this for a second, but to think... Yeah, that is the answer. How this person asked the question made an identity that I think was similar to what... Or, understood their identity... Sorry, I'm blanking of the other speaker's name. I'm sorry, I completely just blanked my memory. It is about, I guess a protection, but then having to find those other people, and then making your own spaces. And those spaces are the spaces that are a pace of healing. Even talks like this or something where it's like, right, I did relate to those stories of having to be in cars, or different... And it's like, "Oh, right. That wasn't just my lived experience. I just heard it through someone else." So I think it's finding each other, and it won't necessarily be easy, but then once we have that space, that's where the healing happens. And creating our own cultures, like spaces that we can have, even if it's not similar identities, similar culture.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you for that, Mubeenah. amber, do you wanna add something? And then maybe I'll... If I can get Callie to maybe read out the question that Mubeenah was answering for our audience and then, maybe, if we can revisit that question after amber, that would be good too. amber, do you wanna go ahead?
AMBER WILLIAMS-KING: I guess just thinking about the idea of invention, and the self and identity, and... Recognize or don't recognize each other who is equally easily recognized, who is not, etc, etc, etc. I don't know, I thought whatever you said about our complicity or like the self-surveilling myths. In that, society sort of dictates life really, really interesting to me. And I guess something that I think about is how do we deal with those tensions? How do we deal with our desires to be seen or be recognized or to make ourselves known and understood in ways and the violence that is enacted based on these like visible or textual recognitions of like how we understand other people? Like these visual cues, or things like textual cues that make us vulnerable to violence. And, I mean, yeah like in the everyday world, you know, there isn't, there is the hyper visibility that exists. So like this concept of like being in the dark can seem, I think, like abstract, but I think what I'm trying to think about is like, how do we sort of problematize like our own desires and the ways that we sort of engage with each other.
Something that I'm thinking about a lot right now, it's really popular with AI, image generator that is taking over social media. And you pay $5 and you get yourself rendered in like these different artistic styles and it's like really grabbing on to people. And I think tapping into this desire to be seen in particular ways. But this AI art generator ultimately whitewashes all of these images of people and is taking in all this data and information to then render these really flattened, sort of, representations of people and society and they think, and I think that sort of like tension between wanting to see ourselves in a particular way, but like the avenues that we're given to do that sort of like recognizing can often be violent. So how do we create other avenues for ourselves and for each other? How do we... Yeah, I guess thinking about being in the dark, it's like, how do we meet each other in those sort of, like, darkened, blackened spaces in ways that are life-affirming and that try to subvert these sort of like violent gaze that comes from the state, for example.
And that's what I think about when I think about your question. Idil, so that's what I said.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you so much for that. I see that we have two questions in the chat currently. So if I can maybe have (UNKNOWN), if you wanna read out the questions for the attendees and the members as well. I know Mubeenah responded to the first question, but I wanna maybe invite some of the other speakers to respond to it as well as the second question in the chat. Thank you. I'm done speaking, Idil.
SPEAKER: Of course, so here's the first question by anonymous. Being misunderstood or so outside of the expected comportment has been a large part of the beginning and continued understanding around my own blackness and gender. That is what made me understandable. Thinking of what you said, Amber. I do recognize that I have formed my perception of self. My most intimate self, from and within and under protection of that undetectedness, rather than from being othered or within violence only. My question is how do you feel subverting the spaces of violence that we exist within can be a space of healing actually for ourselves and each other.
ARIJ ELMI: I can share some thoughts and then maybe that's OK, Amber and Mubeenah. Thank you for that question, I appreciate your comment and the question is very interesting as well. I guess for me, I would first wanna complicate what do we mean by healing according to whose terms? You know, what does healing actually look like? So if we think through and I'm proposing we do that, a lacanian psychoanalytic perspective, he would perhaps say that we are our symptoms and that is actually the process of embracing and understanding yourself as a self. So it's not trying to, I don't know, become one idea of how a human should function but it is to embrace your trauma and your history in the idiosyncratic ways that it makes you into a self. So I'm not sure if that answers your question, but that's how I would approach it.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Any other thoughts from any of the other panelists on that question? If not, then maybe... Amber, did you wanna add something?
AMBER WILLIAMS-KING: Yeah, I think I wanted to just focus on that each other part of the question and like what I feel is, I think being able to exist in difference and see... I don't know, being able to see differences and the messiness of each other is for me part of what makes healing possible. It's not something that I believe happens only within itself or within an individual or on the inside. It necessarily involves all of our past selves, whatever idea we have about a future self, and all of the people that we come in contact with that we know and don't know. And I think that is sort of like the fullness at that. And I think that kind of like fullness and messiness is what healing for me, being able to become comfortable with that kind of discomfort and to... Yeah, I think just be in community with difference and with mess because in all of those, there will always be something somewhere that we can see that helps us to understand ourselves and see ourselves in a different way. And I think the more that we are able to be in difference, I think the more healing is possible, I would say.
I don't think healing is like a destination, I think it is an ongoing process. So, yeah.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you for that, Amber. I think we have two other questions in the chat. So if (UNKNOWN), you wanna pull up the questions and it appears that someone would like to have access to the questions as well via the public space or if we can go ahead and provide that to that person as well, that would be great.
SPEAKER: Yes, definitely. So I posted the first question in the chat and I'll post the second question as well in a second. So the second question is from Ricky Varghese. The question is, I have a question for Arij. Thinking cycle analytically, is there a difference between invention, fantasy, and construction? This ladder, for instance, in the context of the idea that race is a construct. If as some say, race is a construct, then how do we account for the material consequences of racism, particularly anti-black racism? Or is it a case of holding contradictions that both things can be true? That race is a construct/fantasy/invention, while racism can have real material consequences.
ARIJ ELMI: Yes. Thank you and sorry, did you say this from Rick? I think you said.
SPEAKER: From Ricky.
ARIJ ELMI: OK. Fantastic question, Ricky, and I have a reference that you might be interested in that speaks exactly to your question. But what I'll say, so first of all, thinking psychoanalytically, there's all sort of many, sort of course psychoanalysts who might approach this question. So if we think about, for example, the work of Melanie Klein, she comes to the idea of invention and fantasy in very different ways than maybe Lacan would, who I'm sort of more closely working with right now. So I'm gonna answer this from a Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective. And perhaps what he might say is we don't want to stabilize these concepts. So there's certainly going to be overlap between invention, fantasy, and construction but there's always going to be that drift between the signifier and signified. The ways that you as the receiver are understanding what I'm saying as the speaker. So there's no stability, first of all, in language, language is open and fluid. So that might be in the side but that sort of I think is important to consider as we think through this question.
And also, I think you answered your question yourself very nicely. It is about holding contradictions. So as I was trying to make the argument in my talk tonight, it's not that there is nature or nurture. It's that actually both of these things get invented out of our invention of humanness. So for Freud, that comes out of the primal heart. So this is an anthropological story, he traces but sort of says this is where humanity sort of comes from. We come out of the incest taboo that is the first law, and out of that, we as people were created. So it's out of the invention of the category of human that race gets to be invented. So it's not that it's necessarily an essentialist thing or a constructed thing. It is invented out of that. And I would say that Sylvia Wynter approaches this from a different way, but says the same thing looking at circumcision, female circumcision in particular. So I have a lot of references if you wanna read sort of more on this but yeah, I would say you answered your own question quite nicely.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Any other thoughts from any of the panelists on Ricky's question? OK. So I don't think that there's another unanswered question, if I'm not mistaken. (UNKNOWN), I think those are the questions that we've received thus far from the audience, correct?
SPEAKER: Yes, that's right.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: OK, amazing. Thank you so much. I guess I wanted to also come back maybe, and I again just revisit a couple of sort of key issues in all of your individual work. So I know that Arij in your work around critical Muslim studies, you also really think a lot about women. You think a lot about apology. I know, Amber, you think about the use of humor, the use of bodies, space, ecology, so forth. Mubeenah, your activism work, tremendous activism work, particularly in Quebec on the issue of Muslim, women, disability, family, blackness, etc. Also creates certain kinds of interventions, right? They create interventions not just in your artists lives, in your personal lives, in your political lives but they do something, right? And so in thinking either about what your interventions and what your work seeks to do or how doing that work even impacts you in your own kind of material places, your thinking, your work, sort of your day-to-day observations and linking that again to some of the narratives that you've brought forward here, some of the thinking that you've brought forward here.
I would just invite you maybe to share some of that, I think with us, because I know that I certainly have the pleasure of knowing your work. I have the pleasure of reading your work. I have the pleasure of watching your work and all the things, right? And so I want us to also complicate your presentation, right? So tell us about some of the things that we haven't heard that have brought you to some of this thinking. Does that make sense? So I just wanna invite any of you to start there. And maybe this time I'll invite Mubeenah to go first, if you'd like to go first, if that's OK with you.
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: Now well, I mean, that's a good question. I think, for me, a lot of this is about not having someone to do it. So most of my work is activism work, unpaid activism work, but it's kind of just something that many of us have to do out of necessity, right? So it's not like... I mean, it is a choice, but it's also while no one else is really doing this right now. And so it comes from, I mean, there's parts of me that sometimes feel like, oh, this isn't a choice. Who's gonna protect my children, who's going to do these things and then it's always... And I think then the problem becomes, I mean, not just boundaries, but then it's like any space you go to. I have three black boys, one of them is disabled. So then it's like, Oh goodness, everything is a fight and advocating. And then there's nobody... I mean, there are organizations everywhere doing work, but there's nobody there that's gonna come to help you with your child's principal or those kinds of things. So then it's exhausting and then it's like, well... And then it also feels like, well, there's no choice 'cause then you see not even just your own kids, kids in the neighborhood experiencing violence when they get on the bus, and there's always something else that feels like it needs to be done.
So I think it's recognizing also that while that work doesn't have to be just us and that we do have the community, even though they might be going through the same thing at the same time. Because it can also feel like it's never-ending and it's important to have hope. And it isn't a never-ending, but it's hard if that's your life experience, to go to any institution or space, you know, if that answers the question.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you so much. Amber, and then Arij maybe.
AMBER WILLIAMS-KING: I'm an artist first. I make art things and I think one of the things that my art practice has really been, that I've been really preoccupied with, like my art practice, is like thinking about archives and the ways that black people are represented in the archive and creating... And like, that's like one part of my art practice and then another part of creating my own archives by using my body or like self-portraiture as a way to talk about particular experiences of black people, black queer femme people, particularly around mental illness and sort of like isolation and sort of like the impact of white supremacy and capitalism and colonization and imperialism as disabling forces in the world, and how these systems land on the body. And like our experiences of our body and each other's bodies. So, I've used myself and my own experiences as like all those sort of tensions and that chaos, you know, as a way to sort of try to visualize or create like a text in some way that is not simply didactic.
That doesn't tell you all of the things, but it's really trying to embody the sort of experience of all of that. And the other part of my practice is looking at existing archives and mass-produced images or images of like protest, or black liberation within black liberation movements and things like that. And looking for these moments of intimacy or closeness or within these sort of like huge images of all these bodies in a space making demands of the state and the ways that black people are soft or can be soft with each other and intimate and caring and loving in the midst of all of the chaos and tension and violence that we experience. And that care and loving intimacy is necessary, and a part of and the sort of like liberating force within all of that as well. Yeah but I think something that I've always been, not always been but something that I am curious about. And I would be interested in hearing other people's ideas around it like how... I feel that there are ways that sort of are counter-surveilling or technologies of resistance.
They can be like co-opted by the state or commodified by sort of like the capitalist neoliberal machine? And is that sort of like inevitable or are there ways sort of protecting our movements and our social movements and liberation movements from those sort of like external destabilizing corrupting forces, something that I've been thinking a lot about in terms of like, yeah, the archive and surveillance and liberation and things. That's all.
IDIL ABDILLAHI: Thank you so much for that. Amber. Arij, would you like to speak?
ARIJ ELMI: Yes, absolutely. Yeah Amber I mean, that's such a provocative question around whether we can have resistance strategies that are sort of impossible to co-opt. I don't have anything to say on that but anyway, I'm very intrigued and maybe folks in the audience might have thoughts on it. But yeah, so I guess biographically, much like Amber and Mubeenah describe, I think I come to my thinking via practice. So I trained as a social worker. I worked as a psychotherapist. And I was just really, I felt limited by, I guess, what was theoretically available to me at that moment because we were really pushed to embrace identity. So, you know, if I work with Muslim Women, for example, it's always around resisting the narratives of others. But maybe didn't, I couldn't find anything that spoke to the alienating effects that having an identity can have, no matter how positively you relate to it. So it was a long, I would say, road to finding psychoanalytic thinking. Because in my undergrad I was always cautioned against Freud, you know.
And it wasn't until later that I really came to understand psychoanalytic thinking as something that's more descriptive rather than prescriptive. So what can we take from it that might be useful to our own thinking? So, yeah, so my work currently is very psychoanalytically informed. I'm really interested in, as Idil had mentioned at the beginning, around the ways we do identity, the way identity does us. I'm very curious about what comes next. I think many of us in Black studies and in other fields are, we understand how identity politics has been exhausted and we're all sort of waiting for what's coming next. And so, yeah, I would say those are thoughts I'm interested in. I'm very interested also in sort of the future of the family. So understanding our, you know, the family not as a natural institution, but as something that's also been invented, something that's perhaps decaying in its present form. So again, what's coming next? And then I wonder about how to teach all of these things within the university to social workers in a profession that historically and continues to be very harmful.
So what keeps me up at night, to be honest, if you were to ask me, how do I help my students not become like Instagram therapists, that's my biggest goal when I work with them. So, yeah, those are some thoughts.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Thank you so much for those thoughts as well, Arij. I maybe again, just want to see if there's anybody in the audience who would like to ask a question or share a thought. I'll give folks a few minutes to do that while I maybe just ask another question. So I've heard the both of you or the three of you actually, and maybe more so I think Mubeenah and Arij speak to, you do this work or you do these kinds of interventions because there's nobody else doing them or you're doing it for your survival and so forth. I guess my question as well, because I too, like all of you, think about the lives of Muslim people more generally, right? And so I do, in fact, see that there's some work, some scholarship, some thinking, right. And I know personally that there are gaps in some of that thinking, which is part of why this particular series is about black Muslim women and black Muslims in general. And so I'd like us to also speak to that, because I do think that there's a kind of, there's a tension there that needs to be taken up about the ways in which, actually I hate saying that.
About how we are in certain kind of identity categories and subcategories as to evacuate ourselves from other kinds of experiences, i.e., right, being a black person, being a disabled person, and so forth. And so I think about what these things mean in the context of, for example, how we get supports, who gets to speak about Muslim issues, who gets to be in large spaces, organizations and so forth, right. How does not being a person who is visibly Muslim, a person who may not be brown, a person who may not be, etc, then get taken up as one, being impacted by Islamophobia in this country of so-called Canada, right. Being impacted by institutional Islamophobia. Being impacted by state laws, legislation and so forth, right. Alongside being a black person, alongside being a woman, alongside being a disabled person, right. And indeed, I think there's a part of this about how we are moved out of these spaces of thinking, especially in a time where we seem to also have a fetish for blackness, right?
There's something that is, there's these two parallel kind of lines, right. And so on the one hand, there's a lot of conversation about Muslim, there's a lot of conversation about black people, and there's a lot of conversation about disability, OK? These conversations, for some reason, still aren't coming together in one particular way. And, you know, I proper my argument, quite frankly and very honestly, is that Islam, not Islam, my apologies, blackness is a large part of what negates and removes us from conversations, both in the context of Muslimness and Muslim studies, but also in the context of disability, right? Because blackness in and of itself on its own, right, is certainly what is the most repulsed, right. And so how do we take that up, right, in the context of the imagination, in the context of daily living, in the context of producing work theory, living our lives, right. I want us to sit with that for a moment. I want us to take that up for a minute. Because these are also, unfortunately, the difficult conversations that happen within these subset of communities where we all may not show up in the same time, in the same place and in the same way, right.
And so I want to give that invitation. So go ahead. Maybe I see Arij doing a lot of nodding. So maybe you can go first and then Amber and Mubeenah or however you decide. Thank you. I'm done speaking.
ARIJ ELMI: Thanks Idil. And thanks, Amber and Mubeenah for your patience, especially because I have to leave at 7:30. So I'd love to share some of my thoughts before I have to excuse myself. So I think you're right Idil that that is a big gap. Particularly in our context, I would say, thinking through this idea of Muslimness and blackness and you added also disability as well. So one person who has, I think done some exceptional work in our context is Delice Mugabo. And, you know, please forgive me if I'm missing. You know, there may be others who have maybe done some important theoretical work that I just haven't had the chance to read. You know, so when I say work hasn't been done in this context, what I mean is there's a lot of work that's been done in the UK that understands Muslimness as a formation that is a ghostly figure. So it's invented to do something very specific in the context of the UK. We have our own separate history here in Canada. Of course we have the Quebec mosque shootings.
We also have more recently, the London family that was murdered for being visibly Muslim. And there's a lot of other things that perhaps aren't as public that we have to think through if we think about how the formation of Muslimness plays out here in Canada. So, yeah, I guess I'll share some of the questions, you know, because I think about these questions. I would say I don't have answers yet. But one body of work that I've really read through to help me make sense of the relation of blackness and Muslimness is Afro-pessimism. So here, the key theorist being Frank Wilderson. And what he might say is that blackness is an ontological category. So he sort of divides everyone into these very crude categories. It's black, white and indigenous. And so there's no Muslimness on that plane. What he would say is that's a social identity. So it's sort of it's on a different plane. And in that social identity, when you get to claim Muslimness, what happens is you become a junior partner to the white category, which is also the master category.
So what do with that then? So can I in fact be both Muslim and black in an Afro-pessimist scheme? What might other, you know, theoretical frameworks, what might they say to it? You know, is there, I don't know, is there a confluence or possibility of having both a social identity as well as like this ontological like destitution, you know, that blackness is often understood as. So I don't have an answer. But I think Idil, you hit the nail on the head. This is a very serious gap that we have to address in our own context.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Thank you so much for that. And certainly, yes, read Delice Mugabo's work among others. But certainly Delice is the person whom we love and deeply admire her work on black Muslim women in Quebec and otherwise. Mubeenah, would you like to go ahead and add to the comments before Amber?
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: Right. Now, so, I know in the comments someone did mention the difference between invention and construction. And that well, we know that race is a social construct, right? So I think part of it just how I mean, dismantling white supremacy so everyone does create their own culture or has their own culture. Because anti-Blackness is real. But, you know, just as some people might not get read at as black, right. And that doesn't make them less black. It's just that they either choose to not identify with their blackness, right? Because then it would be up to them to claim it in certain instances depending on where they are and how they get read in different situations, right. So it's something that people like, you know, there's black people that might not have connection to where their ancestors came from, right. So it is kind of either people just saying like, OK, no, this is part of my culture because there's I mean, Islam is a religion, but its religion can't be separated from culture either, right.
So it's like here the main homogenous culture is we have Christmas stuff for our holidays, right? And then that we can kind of, even though there's millions of people that are non-white people that are also Christian, but because that was used as to, you know, for the colonies. And that was solved together that it's not fair, but then it's like, OK, well, someone is just automatically assumed to be Christian, probably unless they are visibly something different. Like I don't think black people actually get read as Muslims, even though, I mean, in North America we do have Malcolm X or whatever. But there's still times with other, you know, either with other black people or other white people where they're just like, oh, you're Muslim, you know, because it's like they also imagine Muslims, I guess, looking differently or presenting in certain ways, right? So I think when someone is visibly Muslim, they are racialized. So even if they're like, even if they are still white, they are read as, you know, probably some other race if they're out.
So the main violence that if you're carrying the black identity, the main violence does come from how blackness exists in white supremacy, right. And that's kind of why whiteness, I mean, it created itself. And then they could just let go of all of their cultures and then sign on to whiteness, right. So there are other more, you know, at some point, I guess, people from Portugal maybe would have been considered white or whatever. And then there's only some peoples that are excluded, right? Like, if any of us panelists here, there's no way we could be considered white even if somebody is biracial, right. And that's literally white. And if they wanted to choose how to identify, they weren't to be allowed. Obviously, no one should identify that way. But then it's like, yeah, there are black people themselves that might, you know, identify as biracial instead of saying, you know, I'm a black Muslim woman, they might say I'm a inter-racial Muslim woman, right. So then that's also a way of either protecting yourself, I guess, from anti-Blackness or I'm not sure.
But it does get complicated. But I think it's dismantling white supremacy and then everyone associating with a certain cultural practice that will then slowly, you know, get rid of those kinds of issues that people, you know, have. Because then it's like, well, of course you can be like black and Muslim and this and that. Like, you don't have to pick one. But right now, the world that we live in kind of just imposes one identity on us. Yeah.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Thank you so much for that. Amber, would you like to add anything?
AMBER WILLIAMS-KING: I can't speak specifically to like Muslim identity or the Muslim in that context. But what this question made me think of is like in color theory and physics, I guess it's physics, like black is understood as the absorption of all other colors or like the absorption of light, or black objects do not reflect light in a particular way. And it makes me think of the ways that existing in a black body or as a black object, like you are unable to make claims to other ways of being or other identities. They don't, are not like enterable, the black body. Which is something that I sort of experience in terms of like disability and like mental illness in a particular way. And that there are other ways that we will be read or other ways that other identities that will be placed on us, such as like criminal and that sort of thing, rather than these other types of identities that other people are able to like, that non-black people are able to sort of like occupy. And like just makes me go back to a racist question around like what is next then?
Because I don't think, I think it's clear that identity or identity politics cannot hold. Like they are unstable and do not work. So what is next? And I think one of the things that blackness does is that it throws all of these sort of like categories into question and like displays, sort of like the absurdities and things like that, and the way that the social order is sort of like arranged at the moment.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Thank you so much for that, Amber. I really appreciate. Thank you for that Mubeenah as well. I see that there are no more additional questions in the chat or on the screen. So if there are no more questions this evening, then I'll just thank our speakers for this evening. So thank you to Arij Elmi. Thank you to Mubeenah Mughal. And thank you to Amber Williams-King. As well as thank you to our ASL interpreters who are here from Ai Media. As well as our close captioner Angie. And our team, Amber, Nataly, Apollo and Maddie, who are all working on this project as well. And very special thank you to Luke who is our online support person helping us with this evening's event. And Darren, who's also been supporting us as well. I'd also like to extend a warm thank you to all of you for being with us this evening and taking time out of your busy schedules towards the end of the year to engage and participate in this conversation with us. Thank you so much for that. And we really look forward to seeing you at our next set.
HOLY: We do actually have one more question, Idil.
IDIL ABDILAHI: We do? OK. Of course, I love it.
HOLY: OK. Sorry, it just came in. We have a question from Andre Louis Noel. No, it's great. Thanks, Andre, for sending that in. Living in Quebec, I find it very difficult to challenge racism against Muslim women. There's a whole discourse around Bill 21 not being racist because it's about religion. And as you say, Muslim women are not given much of a voice. I'm trying to have conversations with white family members, and it's much harder to do them when I do around gender and sexuality. The idea of doing for them without them, as you mentioned, was important. How do you navigate that? Or say, what do you think could help people see the humanity and worth of Muslim women when engaging in those discussions?
IDIL ABDILAHI: Great question from Andre, you said. Correct, Holy?
HOLY: Andre Louis.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Andre Louis. Thank you for that, Andre, for your question. I'm going to invite Mubeenah. Sorry, Mubeenah if you'd like to respond to Andre's question, that would be great.
MUBEENAH MUGHAL: Yeah. No, thanks, Andre, for that question. I mean, it is a hard question to answer. Because if I mean, if at the start, it's their humanity is a little challenged, right? So it's like I mean, the argument, I mean I live in Quebec, so I can imagine the argument is that this is, you know, a secular society and that it can't be racism. But I mean, it's definitely sexist because it doesn't target Muslim. I mean, Muslim men aren't necessarily targeted by any of the institutionalized. I mean, unless they have a large beard or. And I don't know personally any stories, not to say that that couldn't have happened. But it's targeting majorly women, right. And the law itself is for all religious symbols, but it's only used against Muslim women. So just by that, it's like, you know, they're already isolated. And at the same time, it's also seen as like a feminist course, you know, but it's like, well, if we're talking about Muslim women, they're women, too. And so it's a certain kind of feminism.
So I guess two people that have that argument, well, one, if they're visible, it's their other, right. So it's like even if it's not a race, it's perceived as a whole subset of people that are backwards, right? Which kind of with racism, it's like the person that's there, the white culture is elevated, right? The white supremacy. So it's seen that way because it's other than Quebec culture, right. So that is technically not racism, but it's prejudice. So I guess to people that would say that, it's like. And again here in Quebec, it's like, wow, they say it's lake, but we still have all Christian holidays, right? Like our days off. And in my lifetime, like just up until, like, I don't know, 20 years ago, stores were still not open on Sundays, right. And even though it was still a secular society. And that's OK. But then it's kind of like, whoa. Again, the gaslighting, where it's like, well, all of these practices are derived from one religion or culture. And just because someone is Muslim, it's always assumed that they're a different race.
So yeah, it's not a race, but it's the person is racialized. I hope that answers your question Andre.
IDIL ABDILAHI: Thank you, Mubeenah. I don't know Amber if you wanted to add just anything more generally about Andre's question if you'd like to add anything. OK, amazing. So, again, I'll give Mubeenah the last word on the panel this evening. I think the only other thing I wanted to share was that our final session of this series will be on January 19 of 2023. So please do feel free to join us as well for that session. We greatly appreciate your participation. And thank you again for joining us this evening. And have a great evening. Take care. Recording stopped.