In continuing with our #BlackMuslimWriters campaign, we spotlight writer and poet Shaheda Richardson. She shares a sampling of her captivating writing with us and some of her background as well.
Q: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
SR: My name is Shaheda Richardson. I have studied English Literature at North Carolina Central University. Throughout my life I have been avid reader, and an advocate for literacy. I currently write for my own blog ‘Reading The Diaspora’ and am working on a book of short stories, and a novel.
Q: Why do you believe writing is so important in our current climate and why is telling your story necessary?
SR: As creative people, we have the unique ability to defy what may confine us, and advance humanity through the efforts of our minds, and our pens. Throughout our history, African Americans have used artistic expression to expand our culture beyond the oppressive circumstances we have been subjected to. We have written our stories, and our poems, and our songs in defiance of that which has sought to stifle us. Writing has expanded our voice, experience, and influence beyond the chains of chattel slavery, the subjugation of repressive laws, and this current climate of resurrected bigotry. Those of us who belong to both the family of African-descended people in the United States, and the global family of those who proclaim “There is No God but Allah”, have a unique opportunity. I would consider it a personal responsibility.
We must expand our voices further in this climate of growing racism and xenophobia. I cannot alter history with my words, but I can shift attitudes, and appeal to the best of what is within us. This is as our tradition, to speak to, and for those oppressed among us. As Muslims, it is a divine command from God, as African Americans, it is our legacy, and repayment for the sacrifices of our ancestors. As writers, we can use our talents to illuminate what is most beautiful about us, as well as the challenges we seek to overcome. This is our power, it is what dignifies us, and what advances the whole of us into greater enlightenment.
A sampling of Shaheda’s work:
For Nabra Hassenen (2017)
For Abeer Qassim Hamza Al-Janabi (2006)
For Rekia Boyd (2012)
For Mary Turner (1917)
Do Not teach your daughters how to run away,
Or look over their shoulders,
Do not teach them to watch their backs, or peak through fingers
Order them to Raise their gaze, About-face, and Square off