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September 22, 2022

SVSU lecturer will explore intersection of race and popular culture

“Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States”

woman in yellow head scarf

Saginaw Valley State University will host speaker Su‘ad Abdul Khabeer as part of the Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. A book signing, with refreshments, will follow the lecture. 

Abdul Khabeer is an associate professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan and is recognized as a scholar, artist and activist.  

In her lecture, she will explore the intersection of race, religion and popular culture, topics she addressed in her first book, “Muslim Cool: Race, Religion, and Hip Hop in the United States.” 

“Dr. Abdul Khabeer’s work is very special and her assessments and conclusions unique,” said Dr. Waheed Akbar, who created the lecture series. “I have followed her writings and her work for some time. She looks at Islam from the perspective that Islam is now a mainstream religion, with as many Muslims born in the U.S. as there are immigrants. Diverse cultures and communities belong to Islam, and she analyzes the strengths of these communities and what they bring with them to the American fabric and the religion itself. Regardless of their backgrounds Muslims bring a unique and beautiful diversity to America’s culture.” 

This event is free and open to the public. The event will be simulcast as an online webinar. To follow the talk online, register here

Abdul Khabeer earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Princeton University. Her training as an anthropologist informed “Muslim Cool.” As part of her commitment to public scholarship, Abdul Khabeer leads Sapelo Square, a resource for “expert content on Black Muslims and the issues that impact their lives as Black people and as Muslims.”  

In 2019, Abdul Khabeer was awarded a Soros Equality Fellowship from Open Society-U.S. Through the fellowship, she developed “Umi’s Archive,” a multimedia project that drew on an extensive family archive to explore the meanings of being Black in the world through the lens of Abdul Khabeer’s mother’s life. “Umi” is an Arabic word for “mother.”   

Abdul Khabeer’s writings have been published in the Root, Washington Post, Atlantic, and Huffington Post, in Ebony magazine and on Al Jazeera English. She has also produced a one-woman solo performance, “Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life,” and a television show, “New Muslim Cool.” 

“Dr. Abdul Khabeer’s work on the Black Muslim experience is a model for how to navigate the matrices of complicated identity relations in a contemporary world. What emerges is the dynamic glimpse of a deeply rooted American story still making its way,” said David P. Nichols, SVSU associate professor of philosophy. 

The Dr. Raana Akbar Memorial Lecture Series was created in 2011 by Waheed Akbar in memory of his wife, Dr. Raana Akbar, a former SVSU Board of Control member, physician and community leader. 

This lecture is presented in conjunction with SVSU’s William and Julia Edwards Lecture in Philosophy and Religion and the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Program.  

The Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program was established at SVSU through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities.  

The William and Julia Edwards Lecture, made possible through a gift from the couple and supported by the William J. and Julia M. Edwards Foundation, is a forum where recognized scholars in religion and philosophy are invited to share their work with the SVSU campus community.