News Brief

First Somali-American Legislator Subject to Islamophobic Harassment After White House Visit

The first Somali-American elected to state office describes a frightening instance of islamophobia after a meeting at the White House.

We've been following Ilhan Omar's path to becoming the first Somali-American elected to state office. Read "The Ilhan Omar Effect" here.


But in America today even elected politicians cannot escape Islamophobic threats and harassment. After visiting the White House no less.

Omar took to Facebook, Wednesday, to describe being threatened in a DC taxi.

Read below:

The post reads:

I spent yesterday afternoon at the White House, learning about policy ideas states could implement in the areas I am passionate about. On my way to our hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced. The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab, I wasn't really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongs. I am still shaken by this incident and can't wrap my head around how bold being are becoming in displaying their hate towards Muslims. I pray for his humanity and for all those who harbor hate in their hearts.
Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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