Standing On The Shoulders of Our Ancestors

L to R (Meriem (Future Pharmacist), Dr. Dhuha (Pharmacist), Keziah (Teacher), Nazaaha (Student), Aasiyah (Student), Sameerah (Student), Amal (Future Psychologist), Thorayya (Teacher))

A couple of weeks ago, I had this bright idea to do a photoshoot with a few of the close women in my life and a few girls who I think will do great things in the future InshaAllah. I wanted it to be a celebration of Black Muslim Women, a reminder of the beauty we possess, the intelligence we possess, and also a nod to our ancestors who came before.

Whoever I chose as a photographer, they needed to be a Black Woman, I knew I couldn't whittle it down to black muslim women photographers because there aren't many and I was on a time crunch. So when Tyesha Roane responded to my FB inquiry, I knew right away I was going with her. We were actually suppose to shoot a long time ago and unfortunately, it never happened. Here was our chance.

I wasn't quite sure of the direction I wanted to head in at first. I just knew that the imagery of the raised fist was going to be a part of the shoot, period. Not only was it necessary for us to replicate the power to the people salute that became a household image after Smith and Carlos, I wanted to be near historical sites where our ancestors who were enslaved presence has been documented.

After thinking about it and reading a recent article about Washington's presidential house, a plan started to take shape. I quickly realized that Old City was the only place where we could effectively accomplish this goal. I purposefully wanted to begin the shoot standing a top a stone etched with the first amendment. Likewise, I needed the next location to be the President's House where George Washington served as the president of the U.S. while being waited on by nine enslaved African Americans.

What better way to protest the foundation of our country and affirm our humanity as Black, Muslim, Women than to stand on the spot where our ancestors once labored for no pay and with little sleep. Here we are, free of our chains, and truly an embodiment of the hopes and dreams our ancestors must have prayed for. By the way, I couldn't resist pouring libations for the ancestors before leaving.

A few weeks later I received the photos and the ones that spoke to me most were the group shots. Words started to formulate in my head for a caption and as I kept writing, it turned into a statement too long for one photo on instagram. Keeping in mind instagrams limit, I located an app that could divide two of the photos into 6 sections each and I split up the caption amongst 12 posts. What resulted was a beautiful tale that paid homage to our ancestors and showcased us, their progeny, as a dream fulfilled. We Matter. Black Lives Matter. Black Muslim Women Matter.


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