Myree Tillotson: Strengthening Diversity and Inclusion

Myree Tillotson is an AfroLatina Muslim from the city of Los Angeles, California. She is a Medical Assistant and a beautiful example of just how diverse Muslims are. She is the daughter of a Mexican-Puerto Rican mother and an African American father.

This story is part of “American Muslims”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States. We will not only be sharing the images from the project, but each image will be accompanied by a personal and unique story to show our shared humanity. To read more about Myree and the rest of the faces from “American Muslims” click here.

How has your rich ethnic background shaped your character and the way you see the world and interact with others?
Growing up with such a rich ethnic background has taught me the value of family and to always have faith. Being multicultural has taught me to work hard and to live and love passionately. It makes me view the world with more compassion and understanding because I’ve seen many sides growing up. I try my best to interact with people in the way that I would like to be approached.

Who is the most important person in your life?
Without a doubt my madre/mother is the most important person in my life.  My mom is my best friend, she is my biggest supporter. She’s just amazing. As long as I have her I know I can achieve whatever I put my mind to.

How do people react when they hear that you are an AfroLatina Muslim?
The funniest thing is how people react when they find out I’m a AfroLatina Muslim. Wearing the Islamic veil or hijab puts a stereotype on women to be automatically associated with the Middle East. People are blown away to find out I’m African American and speak fluent Spanish.  Islam is for everyone and I like to stress that to anyone who asks.

What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my cultures. I come from a family of many shades. I am an AfroLatina, so I honestly feel blessed to have grown up with the balance of both. I love who I am and the cultures that have nurtured my growth.

How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was fair. I also want to be remembered as someone who stood up for the oppressed. I am for the people, whatever we can do as humans to help each other that is what I support. The rights of people and justice being served matters so much to me. A hadith that resonates deeply with me  states ” All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action” Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)
This is so important to me as a Muslim but also as an AfroLatina. This states that Islam is against racism and discrimination. All humans are created equal. All that matters to God is the good a person does and the devotion we have for our creator.

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