Internalized Oppression: A Growing Trend

The US has always prided herself on her nationalism. Her pride frames the night sky on the Fourth of July. Her pride is proudy hung on the outside of houses, lights plastered on the walls on Christmas. Her pride roams the streets on Halloween, knocking on doors in costumes ranging from fairy princesses to mass murderers. But, her citizens do not feel the same pride.

Social media is filled with reflections of self-doubt, depression, and death, especially among teenagers. That isn’t to say that this isn’t countered by an equal number of creative expression and positive outlooks on life, but it seems that the culture nowadays seems to look towards the worst parts of life, focusing on the wars and hurricanes rather than the land beneath their feet and the joys life seems to bring each day. This kind of outlook almost goes hand in hand with internalized oppression, acting out and believing the stereotypes that mass media produces. And this type of behavior seems prevalent in Muslims.

Recently, the term ‘Internalized Islamophobia’ has been coined to demonstrate the way Muslims have begun to feel about themselves. With the media’s negative stereotypes regarding the Muslim community, Muslims have become more likely to have a negative impression about themselves. As each day passes or another attack becomes popularized by the media, Muslims have slowly begun to have a bad name, a name that Muslims themselves seem to be following.

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding just recently did a poll, asking religious individuals if they believed that their co-religionists - people that practiced the same faith - are more prone to negative behavior. 30% of Muslims agreed, which is almost twice the amount of any of the other religions interviewed including Jews, White Evangelicals, and the General Public. In addition, 62% of Muslims felt personally ashamed of violence committed by Co-Religionists.

The effects of the media on oneself is always present. Every hate comment we see and every image the media extorts gives the community pain. But self-hate based on the actions of others will not make these perceptions go away. We as Muslims need to fight to have our voice heard against the loud comebacks of the majority of Americans rather than joining these Americans. In the end, it is our own choice if we want to be the sheep or the herder.