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May 28, 2016
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American Imam Suhaib Webb Denounces "Whiteness" and "Disinvests" from His "White Male Privilege"; Says Donald Trump Is Worse than ISIS (Archival)

#6973 | 04:18
Source: Online Platforms - "ICNA on YouTube"

American-born Imam Suhaib Webb, born Willie Webb, delivered a speech titled "Struggle for Social Justice" at the ICNA-MAS Convention held on May 28, 2016 in Baltimore, MD. Imam Webb said that he feels awkward talking about social justice as a white, blue-eyed, blonde-haired American male, and that his contribution to social justice is to "denounce whiteness and to disinvest from the dominant ethos and pathos of whiteness." Webb asked Allah to forgive him for not being able to get rid of his white privilege. He also expressed disapproval that there had been white women leading a Black Lives Matter conference he had attended, and said that this was a manifestation of "white savior complex" and of "disgusting, simplistic, naïve, and dismissive rhetoric." Webb said: "[In] 2015 Muslims were saying that nothing could possibly be worse than ISIS… and now Allah has sent us Donald Trump." According to his website, Imam Webb graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma and from Al-Azhar University’s College of Shari’a in Egypt. He currently resides in New York and is the resident scholar at the Islamic Center of NYU. He has been referred to as the "Snapchat Imam" because he has shared religious advice on the popular social media app, Snapchat. ICNA, short for Islamic Circle of North America, is a grassroots Muslim organization that works towards "establishing a place for Islam in America." MAS, short for Muslim American society, aims to "move people to strive for God consciousness, liberty, and justice, and to convey Islam with utmost clarity." ICNA and MAS jointly hold the annual ICNA-MAS Convention. Other speakers who spoke in 2016 alongside Imam Webb included CAIR Director Nihad Awad, Palestinian-American political activist Linda Sarsour, Dr. Dalia Fahmy, Nouman Ali Khan, Hamza Tzortzis, Imam Asif Hirani, Naeem Baig, Dr. Nadeem Siddiqi, Sheikh Omar Suleiman, Imam Khalid Griggs, and Sheikh Yasir Qadhi.

Following are excerpts:


Imam Suhaib Webb: Let me just begin by saying that as a white American that it is very awkward to be talking about social justice in this country. It may be funny, but it's serious. A white, blue-eyed, blond-haired man is born in tremendous privilege in this country that grants him utility which has never been seen historically before. So I don't really feel like I should be talking about social justice, as I will talk about it in my net speech. My contribution to social justice is to denounce whiteness and to disinvest from the dominant ethos or pathos of whiteness which continues to allow white Americans to have tremendous advantages over other Americans. That's the best contribution I can make.




It's weird that in Boston, when people were at the Black Lives Matter conference, I saw a bunch of white women leading Black Lives Matter, and I said that this is the white savior complex coming into play. It's Tom Cruise in the Last Samurai, who can go to Japan and become the greatest samurai in two and a half weeks. You know, this type of disgusting, simplistic, naïve, and dismissive rhetoric…




I believe that my position in America at this stage of the game is to denounce whiteness – not white people - as a construction and disinvest as best I can from any of the privilege that my gender as well as my color have given me.




And acknowledging the fact that white privilege is something I can never get rid of.




And that's why the Prophet Muhammad said: "May Allah forgive us for the sins we know and the sins that we're not aware of." And I say that sincerely.




The second thing I'll talk about is why individually we fail to get involved in social justice movements in this country. I would argue that Muslims – outside of the community of the honorable Louis Farrakhan, the community of Imam [Warith Deen] Mohammed, and the Palestinian American community also – don't really understand the complexities of getting involved in social justice in this country and the ned for it.




In January 2015, Muslims were saying that nothing could possibly be worse than ISIS. We continued to fight and divide, and now Allah has sent us Donald Trump, and Muslims are saying… We shouldn't laugh about it, because what's after Donald Trump? And what's after that? And what's after that?




The second reason I think that we as a community fail to stand up to power is that we are enamored by whiteness. We may not admit it, and we may not want to own up to it, and I'm not saying all of us, but white America provides us with quick access to power and comfort. It's a promise of immediate success, but it's one of the greatest lies.




If we fear to stand up for what's right because the dominant power structure will disown us, then we should never forget that there is nothing more dominant and powerful than Allah. That's why the Prophet Muhammad, in Mecca… His message starts with the marginalized, except for Abu Bakr, because it's very rare to find a rich person who's down.

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