Su’ad Abdul Khabeer @DrSuad (Founding Director and Senior Editor) is a scholar-artist-activist whose work explores themes of race, religion and popular culture. She is currently an associate professor of American Culture and Arab and Muslim American Studies at the University of Michigan. Su’ad received her PhD in cultural anthropology from Princeton University and is a graduate from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She also has an Islamic Studies diploma from the Institute at Abu Nour University (Damascus). Her latest book, Muslim Cool: Race, Religion and Hip Hop in the United States, examines how intersecting ideas of Blackness and Muslim identity challenge and reconstitute the meanings of race in the United States.
Suad is deeply inspired by scholarship, like the work of Zora Neale Hurston and WEB Du Bois, that is holistic, both academic and creative, as well as committed to the public. Accordingly, Su’ad’s written work is accompanied by her one –woman performance piece, Sampled: Beats of Muslim Life, and her poetry was featured in the anthology Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak. It was Su’ad’s deep commitment to public scholarship that lead her to found Sapelo. She has also written for TheRoot.com, the Washington Post, trans-missions.org and the Huffington Post, The Islamic Monthly and has appeared on Al Jazeera English. A Brooklyn native, Su’ad is unashamedly Black, undeniably Latina, and unapologetically Muslim.
Nsenga Knight @Nsenga_K (Co-Founder and Managing Editor) grew up in a big Black Caribbean-American Muslim family in Flatbush, a Caribbean colony in Brooklyn, New York. She was born in the 80’s and gained a love for culture and everything Black in the 90’s. She left her parents home in 1999 via a full scholarship to Howard University where she studied Film Production and French. Nsenga later earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She chose to study film and fine arts because of her desire to document and share the stories of African American Muslims in all of our complexities, depth, and eccentricities. This personal mission is at the core of what she does at Sapelo Square. You can learn more about her artistic work and keep up with her exhibitions at nsengaknight.com
Malikah A. Shabazz @malikah313BK (Arts and Culture Editor) is a Detroit born Brooklyn based media professional. She works in the television industry as a content and production coordinator. She is the director and producer of the short docs “The Vortex” and “Transplants”. She is the founder of the weekly blog “Detroit Girl In A NY World” and is also the curator of #BilalianExperience, an online collection of positive images of Black Muslims in America. She is currently in pre-production for her first short narrative film.
Rashida James-Saadiya @RSaadiya (Arts and Culture Editor) is a visual artist, writer, and cultural educator, invested in transforming social perceptions through creative literature. Her work explores migration, identity and the transmission of spirituality through poetry and song amongst Muslim women in West Africa and the American South. In addition, she is the Creative Director of Crossing Limits, a multi-faith non-profit organization utilizing poetry as an instrument to combat social injustice.
Vanessa Taylor @BaconTribe (Arts and Culture Editor) is a freelance creative based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She’s interested in using a multi disciplinary approach to social justice, from on-the-grounds activism like co-founding the Black Liberation Project to finding accessible ways to educate community, with writing as a way to make sense of it all. Her work focuses on exploring cultural criticism and the intersections of identity. She is currently a fellow of Muslim Wellness’ Deeply Rooted Emerging Leadership inaugural class.
Rasul Miller @TheCoolAkh (History Editor) is a PhD student in History and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include Muslim movements in 20th century America and their relationship to Black internationalist thought and West African intellectual history.
Will Caldwell @wllcldwll (History Editor) is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern University. He specializes in the history of early twentieth-century African American Muslims, with a focus on issues of race, empire, and internationalism.
Ryan Hilliard @rynbhllrd (Religion Editor) is a Chicago native serving as the visiting speaker-in-residence at The Green Room, a safe space for Muslim youth in northern Alberta. He is the former Youth Director for the Islamic Association of Collin County in Plano, Texas, as well as US Liaison for SeekersHub Español. He currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta with his wife and daughter.
Dr. Kimberly C. Harper @ronbett75 and @omeraproduction (Religion Editor) is a self-proclaimed lover of the Black experience. She is an Assistant Professor of English and director of the technical writing concentration at her alma mater North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (A&T) in Greensboro, NC. She earned a B.A. in English from A&T; a M.A. in Technical and Scientific Communication from Miami University in Oxford, Oh; and a Phd in Technical and Professional Discourse from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC. She teaches undergraduate courses in technical communication, rhetorical studies, hip-hop discourse, and visual rhetoric. Her goal as an educator is to create an environment that allows students to see themselves as part of the narrative.
She is currently researching and writing about diversity in technical communication, the visual narrative of Black motherhood, mental health within hip hop culture, and the rhetorical choices of textbook creators. In addition to her work as an educator she also writes for Omera Productions, a company that creates education programs and books for children of color. She has a deep abiding love for Islam and the African diaspora and is an avid reader.
Bashirah Mack @msbmack (Social Media Coordinator) is an Atlanta native who resides in the city of Chicago. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Black World Studies and Islamic World Studies from Loyola University Chicago.
Bashirah joined Sapelo Square as the Social Media Coordinator. She develops and manages the Sapelo Square brand across various social media platforms. Her passion to educate communities on the intersection of being black and Muslim in the U.S. is achieved through her work.
In her leisure, Bashirah enjoys travel to places that have significant African and African diaspora histories and cultures. She traced the forced migration routes of her black and Muslim ancestors by exploring the southern coastal U.S., West Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and South America.
Nisa Islam @nisaislam (Politics Editor) is a graduate of Hartford Seminary, Class of 2017, with a Masters in Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations, and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. She interns at Howard University as their Muslim Chaplain. She is the Politics Editor.
Muhammad Ihsanulhaq Sarfraz @misarfraz (Website Development) is currently working towards his PhD in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His research interests lie in the areas of secure systems and applied cryptography, databases and cloud computing. His passions and inspiration include web development, the study of human computer interface and the psychology of human/computer interaction. He is proficient in several web programming languages and builds websites that delight and inform.
Aïdah Aliyah Rasheed @aidahrasheed (Special Projects) recognizes the power of art and culture as means of cultivating communal awareness and connectivity. She is an interdisciplinary artist and multi-media producer. She has worked with world renowned artists, museums, and educational institutions. Additionally, she carries more than a decade of civic engagement and interfaith service, creating innovative solutions to the economic and racial injustices facing communities around the United States. Rasheed holds an MFA from the California College of the Arts and a BFA from Morgan State University.