Evelyn AlsultanyMay 26, 2023
The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion
New York University Press 2022
In Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion (NYU Press, 2022), Evelyn Alsultany, Professor at the University of Southern California, argues that, even amid challenges to institutionalized Islamophobia, diversity initiatives fail on their promise by only focusing on crisis moments.
Muslims get included through “crisis diversity,” where high-profile Islamophobic incidents are urgently responded to and then ignored until the next crisis. In the popular cultural arena of television, this means interrogating even those representations of Muslims that others have celebrated as refreshingly positive. In the realm of corporations, she critically examines the firing of high-profile individuals for anti-Muslim speech—a remedy that rebrands corporations as anti-racist while institutional racism remains intact. At universities, Muslim students get included in diversity, equity, and inclusion plans but that gets disrupted if they are involved in Palestinian rights activism. And in law enforcement, hate crime laws revolving around violence against Muslims fail to address root causes.
In our conversation we discuss anti-Muslim racism and the racialization of Muslims, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, corporate motivations to value diversity, recent Hollywood representations of Muslims, the Obeidi-Alsultany Test, racial gaslighting in law enforcement, the 2015 Chapel Hill shooting, anti-Muslim speech at NPR and ESPN, Palestinian activism on campus, and strategies to move beyond “crisis diversity.”
Kristian Petersen is an Associate Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.