allies, culture, discrimination, faith, hijab, human, interfaith, Islam, life, lifestyle, love, minorities, muslim, muslim woman, muslim women, muslims, oppression, peace, POC, religion, religious, spirituality, systematic racism, women
Today I sat down with my husband and recorded a simple YouTube video (for those who don’t know, we regularly make YouTube videos for thousands of viewers) about prejudice against minorities in the United States. It was a respectful video, with no vulgarities, nationalism, or unkindness – more than we can say for what comes out of some politicians’ mouths these days. And guess what? As we were uploading the video tonight, YouTube told us that this video is “inappropriate” for advertisers – meaning, we’re not going to be allowed to have commercials on the video and our only income will be reduced because we won’t be allowed to earn money from our hard work.
Not only that – because a monetized video (i.e. a video in which there are commercials) are a partnership between YouTube and the content creator, when a video is monetized both the creator and YouTube itself make money. So when a video can’t be or isn’t monetized, YouTube doesn’t make money… and therefore has no motivation to suggest the video to viewers. In other words, because advertisers don’t want to be associated with Muslims, our video that is a very important discussion about exactly this sort of prejudice won’t be delivered to people who want to watch it – or for that matter, to those who don’t care enough to want to.
This isn’t the first time though. Every time we post a video in which we mention Islam, Muslim identity, or prejudice, this happens. Consistently. It even happens on other videos that we post – and this is truly a problem unique to Muslims and a few other minority groups who are vocal about owning their uniqueness. This is unacceptable. I’m telling you this to say that society disdains Muslim-ness and other forms of “different-ness” to such an extent that advertisers have made clear to a supposedly inclusive platform like YouTube that they do not want to be associated with us at all – and what’s worse is that YouTube bent to their wishes. Because, money.
When we collectively silence minority voices, especially minority voices that stand out and don’t act like they’re not minorities, we are collectively allowing minorities to be “other-ized”; that is, turned into something that seems so foreign to the majority that we become entirely dehumanized. And when we are dehumanized, we become devoid of the right to live the same life that majorities live. We stop being one of the collective “us”, and instead are perceived as the ever-distant yet somehow simultaneously ever-creeping-closer “them”. We are perceived as a menace and undeserving of the simple benefit of the doubt afforded to majorities.
This in turn can and often does lead to external weaponization of minority identities. For example, young black men are generally (and I must say, wrongly) perceived as inherently more violent, dangerous, and criminal than their white counterparts. This, because black skin is weaponized by popular culture; that is to say, people see it as a danger in and of itself. So it follows that those inhabiting such skin are dangerous too. And of course, dangers must be… eliminated. Which is exactly what society is doing by killing off or failing to nurture black children. The same logic can be applied to every minority. And how does this whole grotesque process begin? By putting proverbial duct tape over our proverbial mouths.