Muslim Privilege, White Privilege and Those Caught In The Middle

My latest column in the Crescent Times!

Muslim Privilege, White Privilege and Those Caught In The Middle
By Eugenia Flynn

In a review of Waleed Aly’s Quarterly Essay for New Matilda, Irfan Yusuf recently wrote “Today’s migrant brown man complains of the white man’s prejudice toward him but neglects to recognise the responsibility of both white and brown migrants toward the continued dispossession of the original Australians. Muslim leaders should not expect empathy when they do not empathise toward those who have suffered much more and for much longer”.

Put much more eloquently than I could ever write, I was struck by the similarity of Irfan’s thought to mine, albeit from two different but not opposing sides of this equation – myself as an Indigenous Australian calling for Muslims to come to the table and Yusuf as a ‘brown migrant’ calling his own to action.

The significance that a ‘brown migrant’ notes the same as I do is not lost on me.  More than this, perhaps what the Ummah in Australia does not realise (and here I suspect that Yusuf actually does) is that Muslims in Australia with a migrant background have a certain level of privilege over Indigenous Australians.  Further than this though, I strongly believe that this privilege mirrors that of other non-Indigenous Australians’ – that is that in this context Muslim Privilege, despite coming from those who are “non-White”, is the same as White Privilege.

For example, a number of interactions with non-Indigenous Australian Muslims lately has led me to realise that a number in our community are unaware of their own privilege as non-Indigenous Australians.  More broadly than this, from a number of discourses on White Supremacy and its implications for the Muslim world (thank you Lamppost Productions and everyone associated with you for discussing these issues), it is obvious to me that a number of Muslims in the global Ummah are unaware of their own privilege as non-Black Muslims.

This continued refusal to acknowledge the privilege that non-Black Muslims hold (within an Australian context the privilege that non-Indigenous Australian Muslims hold) is a blight on our Ummah and as previously stated it is a privilege that is mirrored by the privilege of non-Black people everywhere (in Australia non-Indigenous Australians).  Put more simply, in Australia the privilege that Muslims hold is the same as White Privilege, despite their non-White status.

That this should not be so, because we have Islam and within it we are commanded to what is just, is a given.  However, how much is it a ‘given’ to those who cannot even recognise their own privilege?  More than this, when Muslims view themselves as non-White, non-Western, how does this effect their ability to perceive their own privilege and realise that it is the same as non-Blacks and non-Indigenous Australians?  And for those who do perceive, acknowledge and deal with their own privilege (like Irfan Yusuf) where do they fit in?

So many questions, but I will leave you all to ponder the answers…

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