Associate professor of American culture at the University of Michigan and the author of Muslim Cool.
Su’ad Abdul Khabeer will give the Baccalaureate address “Muslim Cool: Race, Culture, Religion, and the Promise of Solidarity in Challenging Times” at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 27 in Finney Chapel.
Khabeer is associate professor of American culture at the University of Michigan. She was previously a professor of anthropology and African American studies at Purdue University. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology at Princeton University, did undergraduate work at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and received a degree in Islamic Studies from a Damascus seminary. Khabeer is also an award-winning poet-performer and founder of Sapelo Square, a web-based magazine exploring the history of black American Islam. She has written for the Washington Post, the Atlantic, Ebony, the Huffington Post, Trans/Missions, and Religious Dispatches. Her 2016 book Muslim Cool explores generations of interlinks between the history of black American and minority communities’ arts, culture, and activism and the evolution of American Islam.
Khabeer is a first-generation academic, raised by a single mother with the assistance of her grandmother. She is a native New Yorker, who traveled across the United States and internationally, to acquire both the ethnographic and scholarly data to speak authoritatively on issues of authenticity, practice, doctrine, and community. She has an active social media presence, and makes frequent appearances to discuss issues of civil rights, youth engagement, and black American culture. The opinions she shares are informed, compassionate, nuanced, and aim for moral clarity and equality.
The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life is committed to reflecting religious, racial, cultural, and practice diversities in its choices of baccalaureate speakers. In 2016, ORSL celebrated the work of Rev. Frank Chikane, a living testament to the effectiveness of the Black Consciousness movement. In 2017, Rabbi Jill Jacobs spoke of the need for a firm moral compass in a shaky world. In choosing among social justice-minded and thoughtful Muslim scholars, who would appeal to a broad audience of students, faculty, staff, and community, Khabeer adds to the compelling voices of our day. She is an excellent speaker, who is able to maintain rapt attention through willingness to face difficult issues and to highlight moments of joy. She is inclusive and considerate of sensitivities particular to today’s campus. As a young scholar, Khabeer has received dozens of accolades and is poised for a yet-more-distinguished future. ORSL is delighted to bring someone of her caliber and talent to our campus.