“… Muslims in New York City, in order to gain political and economic power, are reconfiguring religion into ethnicity…” (160).
After our discussion in the last class about race and prejudice in New York City, this sentence in the Slyomovics article resonated in my mind as I continued to read. Tuesday wasn’t the first time I debated race in any of my classes. Last semester, in my Anthropology class, we discussed, in great detail, how race is a social construct. This semester, in my Indian history class, we discussed how race, while not entirely, was promoted by the colonialist countries during their years in power, to diminish the local population in order to ‘allow’ for modern countries to go about conquering other people. This class, while intertwined with race, discusses religion. But usually, each religion that we learn about is intertwined with a community within a race, rather than the religion itself being a race itself. Slymovics analysis of why there is a necessity for a specifically Muslim Day Parade, rather than a nationality day parade, is extremely intriguing.
I was thinking about it and it’s not something that most people would question; there are parades in New York City associated with other religions, such as the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. But the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is linked directly to Ireland. While the Muslim Day Parade is linked to the Middle East and Pakistan, it’s an interesting thing to note that it is not organized by a single race of people. It’s not the immigrants from Mecca or Medina who are organizing the Muslim Day Parade, but people who are only connected to one another by religion. Of course, religion often results in ties of tradition and language, but I think it’s interesting to see how the Muslim community are going out of their way to profess this claim while other religions feel no necessity to do so; there is no Catholic Day Parade, a Hindu Day Parade, a Jewish Day Parade, a Buddha Day Parade, etc. There are parades associated with many communities (Saint Patrick’s, the Israeli Day Parade, etc.) but no other religious group is going out of its way so intently to profess to New York City that they are a group of people, despite regional differences.
If all religious groups were to do as the Muslim Day does (according to Slyomovics), profess their unity of race, then would not religion itself be the new formative factor of race, rather than the way people look?