The Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders (DREL) Fellowship centers the challenges, strengths and well-being of Black Muslim Emerging adults (18-25 years old) and is grounded in the belief that building power and sustainable grassroots movements cannot occur without healing and introspection. ​We hope to nurture a cohort of emotionally intelligent social justice activists and leaders who will more assertively and constructively engage in spiritually grounded, justice oriented advocacy within the Muslim community. 

The Black Muslim Youth Rising Intensive Leadership Retreat (October 27-29, 2017 | Philadelphia, PA)*  was the first component of the Fellowship. It focused on guided discussions on the psychological impact of oppression, trauma of racism, Islamophobia, emotionally intelligent leadership, and strategies for community engagement.  Another component of the DREL Fellowship includes the virtual monthly Deeply Rooted Dialogue Series. These intimate (and confidential) conversations are designed to take a deep dive into a wide range of topics and issues such as the diversity of Black Muslim identities, gender, sexism and misogyny, experiences of immigration and Arab hegemony within the African Diaspora. The DREL Fellows will agree on each topic through consensus and 1-2 Fellows will act as a lead facilitator.  Each month we will post the topic and discussion questions and encourage others to develop opportunities for young adults to have these very important dialogues in a safe and inclusive space.

December 2017:

Blackness (re)Defined: Addressing Tensions Between African and African American Communities

Unfortunately there are 'conflicts, stereotypes and grudges' which exist in the Black Muslim community between Black Americans (those who are descendants of enslaved Africans) and Black African and Caribbean immigrants. These rifts can lead to misunderstanding, biases, and resentment towards the 'other'? How do we address these stereotypes and divisions openly and honestly? How do we build solidarity and cooperation?

Recommended Reading: 

Discussion Questions:

  • What are your hopes, fears and concerns for the discussion?

  • What emotions may come up? {for ex. guilt, anger, resentment, judgment, shame, pressure to conform to what is deemed more acceptable}

  • What has made the conversation difficult and why?

  • What does Blackness mean to you?

  • When did you begin to identify as Black, as a conscious, intentional choice? Or not?

  • When does your racial, ethnic, religious identities become salient?

  • What are some types of conflict, stereotypes, grudges that exist between Black American and Black African communities?

  • What stereotypes, biases and prejudices have you internalized and believe you have to unlearn? Have you ever had to defend the other community or challenge family members on their prejudice?

  • How do the rifts or tensions manifest in daily or social expectations (marriage/friendship)?

  • What factors contribute to the rift between Black people in the African diaspora and what can we do to close that gap?

  • How would Black Muslim communities look/be in the future if we reconciled our past pain and embraced a more expansive, inclusive definition of Blackness?