Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bringing Muslim Culture to Brooklyn

Muslim artist Brooklyner Nsenga Knight has found that historically, Brooklyn has lacked any real Muslim culture. Some years ago – equipped with her research grant – she went to the Brooklyn Historical Society looking for available information on Muslims in Brooklyn. She found hardly anything. The East Flatbush-raised Knight explained:
“They’re missing a lot of stuff. There were hardly any images of Muslims in their archives. They didn’t have that many images of black people. The archive of Brooklyn isn’t necessarily representing Brooklyn.”

Thankfully since then there have been some major developments in the expression of Muslim information and culture in Brooklyn. Much of this can be attributed to the work the Brooklyn Historical Society’s oral historians did. They went around the area and conducted interviews with dozens of Muslims in an effort to “fill the gaping cultural hole in [the museum’s] archives.”

This resulted in the assemblage of 54 oral histories, totaling 100+ hours of audio – all which was published for the public. Along with immigrants from Pakistan, Morocco, Trinidad and Tobago (among other places), many of the interviewees were born and raised in Brooklyn and hail from various religious sects such as the Nation of Islam, Shiite and Sunni. They have now substantially filled the gap