Interview with Mohammad Mustafa, a 16 year old first generation Muslim American.
Mohammad Mustafa, I am a 16 year old first generation Muslim American. Traveling to America was a difficult journey, however living in America provided its own challenges. From the language barrier to racism at every corner I taught myself how to live in a tense environment but thrive. People would disrespect my culture, my accent, and sometimes my cultural apparel. When I began to succeed weather it be my Board Of Education position, Student Council Election, or even getting my own Live Show series on IGTV. They were stunned that someone named Mohammad could achieve so much, they were afraid.
Interview between Mohammad Mustafa and Joann Lam.
From your Instagram account, I saw that you are an activist. What is the difference between just being a supporter and being an activist?
When you support something you help amplify voices. When you are an activist you are the voice. Being an activist means being a radical supporter.
How has current situations concerning the riots/protests affected you?
Yes. I have not only been pushed to re-evaluate how active I NEED to be but also how to keep my followers interested. Many people have lost followers and that’s the opposite of what we need. We must reach those people, specifically those more conservative people who are prone to supporting the ALL LIVES MATTER movement
Activists speak upon controversial topics, have you ever dealt with someone who has strong opposing views with you? How have you dealt with them if you had encountered people who aren’t as open-minded?
Many times I come across stubborn people. Some even claiming that slavery wasn’t as bad as history claims. In these situations I aim to attack the system that protects them rather than them themselves.
I’ve also noticed you had a large follower account, how does it feel to be an “influencer”? Do you feel you have this responsibility to keep your account at an aesthetic or to keep posting content/updates of your life?
I’d rather think of myself as a news account with some cool pictures LOL. I think it’s a responsibility to make sure everything I post is factual and giving my peers the opportunity to form their own opinion but based on the real facts. I don’t care about aesthetics especially in these times, it’s hard to care about such trivial matters when people’s lives are at stake.
Going back to your points about how stubborn people can be when they fail to see the bigger picture.As an activist, how do you rationalize with people to make them see your POV? I’ve been in many heated arguments, so what do you do or think is the best way to get your point across?
FACT FACTS FACTS! Many times people are arguing but not even on the same facts so it makes it impossible to come to an agreement. Also, you must remain patient and calm. When people start attacking you and diverge from the argument you can leave the conversation. It is genuinely about attacking the mentality and environment .
How has social media helped you been more vocal in playing the activist role?
It has given me a platform. Before I could only talk to people I knew who shared similar views. But now I can converse with people who have different opinions and spread more facts.
Do you believe protests are more effective? Or do you believe reposting tweets are more effective in getting the memo out?
BOTH. It took social media to get the message out there and help organize the protests, but protests are not essential to change.
Do you think parents have a great effect on our opinion on important matters? How have your parents affected how you react/think?
Yes. Parents play a huge role in your opinions, however it’s up to you to learn to form your own opinions. For instance my family is quite conservative but I am not. So it’s about forming a mentality that allows you to be independent l.
Do you ever talk to your parents about your opinions or beliefs? If you do, how did you start the conversation with conservative parents that aren’t so comfortable with how kids our age are creating a life that is so different from our parents?
I usually don’t discuss politics because I know the outcome will never be an agreement, however I believe that communication is key. So having your parents understand that politics and advocacy are a passion. My parents hated the fact that I was so vocal however when you love something you have no choice but chase after it.
In your opinion what is the most important problem in the world?
I think the most important problem in the world is the deep rooted past of white supremacy. It’s what led to so many of the modern day problems.
When did you start to identify yourself as an activist? Was there a particular problem that caught your attention?
Probably 2 years ago. It’s when I became more involved in my identity. Israel is commuting a racial genocide in Palestine. Also, the worst humanitarian crisis in Yemen. As well as the civil war in Syria.
Lastly, What are ways that young people can take effective action for change in the community? How can we take a stand with you or show support?
Attending protests, donating to bail funds or organizations, and sharing valuable information and tips.