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Added: Drystal Gorrell - Date: During his time in that town, Atkinson — a working-class, white Mississippian — wore a homemade, leather necklace bearing the face of Malcolm X, a style choice he picked up from his love affair with Afrocentric, 80s hip-hop.
While wandering the aisles of the local Walmart, Atkinson bumped into a Muslim family. At the time, Atkinson had yet to formally convert to Islam. His deep interest in the religion and to the black pride movement starkly contrasted with the narratives he heard growing up. Atkinson was raised in Jackson, Mississippi, in a family steeped in white supremacy. His grandfather taught him to tie a noose as a bonding activity, and though his parents showed some awareness of their changing world, their own fundamental racial politics had not changed.
In the years following the Walmart encounter, Atkinson explored Islam and his own identity. He made the decision to convert after almost ten years of personal exploration. It was a means to distance himself from his upbringing. He recalls spending the early days of his conversion wearing a long robe and a turban to visibly mark himself as different.
As time went on, Atkinson came to understand that he would have to reconcile the culture in which he was raised with his new faith. The Facebook group became a hub for more than a thousand converts like him scattered across the South. The idea of an Islamic, anti-racist re-envisionioning of Southern white culture attracted the attention and support of historically-black mosquesmany of which had undertaken a project of cultural reinvention decades earlier.
Those mosques provided Atkinson a space to host workshops and discussions, both for the Muslim community as a whole and for a smaller group of white converts. Guest Host Anita Rao talks to Atkinson, who currently serves as the Muslim chaplain at Elon Universityabout his working-class white upbringing, brief rap career, experiences with chaplaincy, and the complexities of white Muslim identity.
Search Query Show Search. Show Search Search Query. Play Live Radio. Next Up:. Available On Air Stations. All Streams. Dana TerryAnita Rao. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn.
Courtesy of Shane Atkinson. Paul Kiefer. Paul Kiefer is a born-and-bred Seattleite and a lifelong talking-to-strangers enthusiast. He began his work in public radio with KUOW's RadioActive Youth Media program and never looked back; he has since worked as a headline producer, fact-checker, and independent producer, and he dreams of a career as a producer for public radio.
Paul is a rising senior at Pomona College, where he is working on a degree in history with a specialization in the history of Muslims in the Americas and Europe. If all else fails, he will fall back on his abilities as a cook, barber, and chatterbox in English, Spanish, and Arabic to keep himself busy. See stories by Paul Kiefer. Dana Terry. Dana is an award-winning producer who began as a personality at Rock Once she started creating content for morning shows, she developed a love for producing. Dana has written and produced for local and syndicated commercial radio for over a decade.
See stories by Dana Terry. Anita Rao. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content. See stories by Anita Rao. Related Stories. Of all the tributes that Farris Barakat has seen for his three slain family members, one of his favorites is a wooden plaque that bears their silhouettes…. Laura Pellicer. As a prominent Islamic scholar, Omid Safi has written often in defense of the breadth and nuance of Islam.
But for his latest book, Safi hones in on the…. Hundreds of residents from Winston-Salem ed prayer services at three mosques in the Triad area on Friday. The outpouring of support for the Muslim…. LGBTQ individuals have long been pushed out of religious and spiritual communities, but that has not made all of them lose their faith.
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More Stories. Celeste Gracia. Low income communities of color in urban areas are more likely to experience extreme heat because of historically unequal policies and investment around development and zoning.
A new, national effort hopes to identify and eventually address these "urban heat islands. Associated Press. North Carolina House Republicans approved a plan on Wednesday to prohibit public schools from embracing certain ideas that critically examine how race and racism influence American politics, culture and law.
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