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Nasser Mussa

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Nasser was born in Ethiopia and mostly grew up in Kenya. He came to Minnesota at the end of 2005 and still lives there. He graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

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0:03:07

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Nasser Mussa: “Identity Crisis” – Transcription
Identity crisis.
Being a black, immigrant Muslim and living in America. I was known just by my name and my gender, not by the color of my skin or dress or immigrant status. But now I’m known as a black immigrant and a Muslim in America. Following my arrival in the U.S., many identities came to define me. Just on the first day at JFK Airport in New York, I had to take practice identifying myself as black, immigrant, or refugee. You’re stripped of your identity and wrapped up in a categorizing system that tries to define and determine your destiny.
Color is a big deal in America. It determines how people see you and generalize about you and your life. Religion is a big deal in America. If you are Muslim in America, your loyalty is questionable. When Obama was running for president, he repeatedly said, “I am not a Muslim, I am not a Muslim, and I am not a Muslim.” Being a Muslim in America raises a question of loyalty, “Are you with us or with them?” Like Bush said, “You are either with us or against us.” Your blackness grants you almost a ticket to hell, known as American jail, where many young blacks reside in a small cell that builds invisible walls around you that scares the hell out of people and raises the question, where you fit in America society, like Indian caste system.
Wait a minute, the story’s not over. Your blackness defies discrimination and reinforces invisible segregation that runs along racial boundaries, which plays significant role in your life and raises self-consciousness. Being a black is not a crime, being an immigrant is not a crime, being a Muslim is not a crime. But these identities are misunderstood and misinterpreted, and I am trapped in these identities forever. When I was volunteering for Obama’s election, I knocked on a stranger’s door and was confronted by a man who said that America is not ready for a black president. I was shocked. I never thought the color of skin becomes a problem, but I’m wrong. I never thought my religion is a problem, but I’m wrong. I never thought my immigrant status is a problem, but I’m wrong. The combination of invisible and visible identities constrict my life in America. I am who I am, leave me alone or love me as I am.