‘To be Muslim, Black, and Undocumented’

Fatima Coundoul (Photo via Open City)

“I’m Muslim, I’m a woman, I’m Black. That’s three strikes that I’m working with,” Fatima “Fatou” Coundoul said at an immigration panel at Lehman College in the Bronx. Born in Italy to Senegalese parents before immigrating to New York City at 9, she learned English as her fourth language. By high school, she decided she wanted to become an English teacher. As an English major at Lehman, she was on track to pursue her dream – until President Trump ended the DACA program.

In a story that appeared in Open City, Sumaya Awad profiles the DACA recipient, who like many immigrants across the U.S., faces immense uncertainty.

In the weeks after her DACA was rescinded, Fatou struggled to find a way to pay for college tuition for the fall semester. Her job at the charter school kept her in college but suddenly, out of nowhere, she was going to have to put her college education on hold. For how long remained unknown.

At Lehman, Fatou founded the Muslim Women in Leadership club, one of the many initiatives she led on Lehman’s campus. When she found herself unable to pay for tuition after being forced out of her job, friends came together and started an online fundraiser for Fatou. It took only 24 hours for the site to go viral and to raise the amount Fatou needed to cover school expenses.

While she is able to return to school, questions about her future loom, writes Awad:

What will be the repercussions of Trump’s termination of DACA? Where is the decades-old and intensifying war against Muslims, immigrants, and African Americans headed next?

Coundoul speaks about her Muslim faith and the place she considers home. Read more on the aspiring teacher at Open City.

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