Saginaw Valley State University hosted guest speaker Su’ad Abdul Khabeer Wednesday, Sept. 28 as part of the Dr. Raan Akbar Memorial Lecture Series. Khabeer is a professor at University of Michigan and graduate of Princeton University, as well as being an accomplished writer and activist.
She gave her presentation on the intersection of race, religion, and Islam in the United States, which she refers to as “Muslim Cool”
Her presentation delved into the history of hip-hop in the South Bronx, and the styles of expression associated with the music style, including art, dance, and cultural production.
The presentation explained how the musical outlet allowed the voices of those who were traditionally silenced to be heard in a mainstream media, and how that aided in reconnecting Muslim African-Americans and other people of color to their spiritual and cultural identities.
After the lecture, Dr. Khabeer spoke about her upcoming project during a Q&A session with the audience.
“I’m in the throes of my next project, working with my mother’s archive,” Khabeer said. “She was born in the 1950s, she was a student activist, she belonged to the Black Panther Party, she converted to Islam and raised me as a single mother.” Khabeer talked about how the historical significance of her mother’s generation offers lessons for today.
“I feel like that generation has a lot we can still learn from, and the only way we can is by collecting and sharing their stories,” she said.
Following the presentation and Q&A, those in attendance had a chance to purchase and have signed Khabeer’s book on the subject, titled “Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip-Hop in the United States.”
Gabe Monger, a fifth year music education major, gave his thoughts on the lecture:
“The diversity in the Muslim community was really eye-opening to me” he stated.
“I guess the majority of people don’t really think about African-Americans in the Islamic community. It was cool to see the impact hip-hop had on the culture and the movements in history about fighting against unfair conditions.”
The lecture series is named for the late Dr. Akbar who served on SVSU’s board of control, as well as advocated for education and Islamic awareness in her community.
The lecture series hosts annual guest speakers and outreach to bring Islamic topics to the center of conversation.
The program featured an introduction by SVSU’s president, Donald Bachand, as well as DR. Waheed Akbar, the husband of the late Raan Akbar, and David Nichols, a professor of philosophy at SVSU.