I Was Told I Could Not be Black, Muslim, and LGBTQ

I Was Told I Could Not be Black, Muslim, and LGBTQ

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Blair Imani, 24

Civic Action & Campaign Lead at DoSomething.org

Identifying as Black, Muslim and Queer is far from easy in a society still built predominantly on stereotypes and status quo. But for Blair Imani, the Civic Action & Campaign Lead for DoSomething.org, being a triple minority – and the judgement she’s faced because of it – has fueled her crusade to implement social justice. The activist, who works for the largest tech company for youth engagement, has a simple mantra: “honor yourself.” Judging by her fierce, fearless dedication to the cause, change is on the way.

1. What made you choose this career path? What has been your greatest achievement?

I have always imagined being a full time activist and today I work with the largest tech company for youth engagement and social change. My greatest achievement is likely yet to come as I am just starting out in this role but so far it is overcoming the belief that I could not do what I love and make a living doing so.

2. What’s the biggest criticism/stereotype/judgement you’ve faced in your career?

I’ve been told that I was too concerned about social justice to ever be successful. I have also been told to “grow up” or “join the real world” many many times. Now, people seek out my expertise about grassroots and social activism!

3. What was the hardest part of overcoming this negativity? Do you have an anecdote you can share?

I am constantly facing the stereotypes of what it means to be Black, a woman, a Muslim, and a queer person. After I came out very publicly on Fox News as a queer Muslim woman, I realized that people are going to find a reason to hate you no matter what. 

“After I came out very publicly on Fox News as a queer Muslim woman, I realized that people are going to find a reason to hate you no matter what.”

When Tucker Carlson implied that I could not be Black, Muslim, and a part of the LGBTQ community I made a split second decision to #SWAAYthenarrative and make a declaration of who I am.

4. As you #SWAAYthenarrative, do you feel empowered? What has been your emotional reaction?

I now understand that the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is develop a fierce and unapologetic love for yourself. This does not mean you should be consumed by your own ego but you should be gentle and respectful of yourself. You may as well fall in love with who you are!

5. What’s your number one piece of advice to women discouraged by preconceived notions and society’s limitations?

I would say that it is key to realize where these biases come from. To keep from internalizing and believing them, arm yourself with  knowledge of the historical context from which these stereotypes emerged. Once we know what we are up against, in my experience, it becomes easier to navigate through the nonsense and realize your full potential. Above all, give yourself credit for what you have survived, what you are creating, and who you have become. Honor yourself.

“Once we know what we are up against, in my experience, it becomes easier to navigate through the nonsense and realize your full potential. Above all, give yourself credit for what you have survived, what you are creating, and who you have become.”

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