What many Americans know about Islam they’ve learned from horror stories on the news at night. They think all Muslims headscarves and beards, and harbor anti-American feelings like those of the late Osama bin Laden. They think they’re all brown people with funny accents. They think Muslims are nothing like them and their families.
Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth. Muslims are everywhere in America, and their communities are just as diverse and rich as any you’d find in America. They’ve also got problems that are practically identical to those faced by other Americans. Sadly, one of those problems is racial disparity.
The Muslim American community is the most racially diverse religious group in the entire United States. And with that diversity comes stratification similar to what you’d find in other parts of the country. Blacks make up more than a third of the Muslims in America, much more than the American population in general, and yet their suffering is much like what you’d find in the general public:
“Only 23 percent of Black Muslims completed a college degree or higher, which is comparable to 24 percent of Black Americans but significantly different from Asian Muslims at 57 percent and white Muslims at 51 percent.
Income scenarios paint a similar picture. Thirty-five percent of Black Muslims and 29 percent of Black Americans report a monthly income of $1,999 or less (before taxes), while only 15 percent of Asian Muslims and 21 percent of white Muslims fall into that income bracket.”
Still, despite the fact that life, financially and socially, is not easy for them, many American Muslims report being quite happy and optimistic about the times ahead. In a new Gallup poll, 60 percent of Muslims say they’re thriving in the United States, and young Muslims are just as eager for the future as young non-Muslims. The lesson here is that though the past several years have not been easy ones for Muslims in America, their excitement for America is still alive and well. Bigots would be wise to remember that not only do most Muslims don’t want to bomb America, many want to move here and become Americans themselves.
(Photo: AP Photo/Jessica Hill)