Tariq Toure read his poems that addressed black muslim identity and social justice at Muslim Student Association’s event on March 1. Credit: Deborah Eshun | Lantern Reporter

Amid the larger scope of Black History Month, the Muslim Student Association hosted three events focusing on the contributions of black Muslims.

The third event took place Friday: MSA hosted an event featuring original poetry and storytelling from Tariq Toure.

Salma Shire, a third-year in nutritional sciences and MSA female co-chair who helped plan the event, said black Muslim history events are important because they highlight the achievements of black Muslims who do not receive nearly enough recognition from the media and the community as a whole.

“I feel like a lot of times, even in our society today, we like to focus a lot on ourselves and our stories and our histories, and we don’t take the time to recognize someone else’s,” Shire said. “Even if you can’t relate to it, I think it takes a grand person to be able to connect with someone even though your experiences are different.“

Toure recited poems from his book, “2 Parts Oxygen: How I Learned to Breathe,” a book that addressed black Muslim identity and social justice with a mission of preserving the black Muslim narrative.

“We are at a 500-year deficit of our stories because we were not able to read and write, and many of our stories died in the Atlantic Ocean when we were brought over in slave ships,” Toure said in an interview with The Lantern.

Toure’s fascination with poetry started when he was 7 years old. It wasn’t until he was 23 years old that he knew he could turn his writing into a profession.

His work has led him to perform at Ohio State as well as other universities such as Howard, Princeton and Georgetown.

In his writing, Toure made the deliberate choice to avoid the trauma-based narrative that he said is expected of artists like him.

Instead, Toure integrated his childhood stories of growing up in West Baltimore with nine poems that praised black motherhood and addressed a variety of topics like his father’s journey to Islam, playing football in college, the joys of becoming a father and navigating relationships.

When addressing an audience of students, Toure stressed the importance of young black Muslim voices.

“We need to work as hard as possible to get our stories down on paper, books and out into the world,” Toure said. “Our stories have value, and we need to share it and do our best to craft it and develop it into a way for people to digest it.”