Search form

Donate Today

Play Video

Spark Public

Black, American, Muslim: Life Through the Lens of Three Identities

“Religion shouldn’t be punitive… you should smile when you think about it,” says Lawrence Coleman.

April 6, 2017

“I could choose to hide… but, Islam gives me a place to hope for better,” says Lawrence Coleman. He has experienced most of his life through the layered lens of three identities: Black, American and Muslim.

Throughout his life, balancing those identities has posed some unique struggles for Coleman, whose family converted to Islam when he was 8 years old.

“My parents were tough. My sister and I used to sneak Doritos in my room because they might have pork in them, so our parents wouldn’t let us eat them,” he recalls, laughing.  

Today, in his hometown of Tacoma, Wash., Coleman and his family have happily carved out a place for themselves in their Islamic faith while still maintaining a firm foothold on what it means to be African-American.  

“Religion shouldn’t be punitive... it should have peace in it. You should enjoy it. You should smile when you think about it,” he reflects. “That’s the way I practice Islam.” 


Serena Berry

Serena Berry is an independent filmmaker and producer from Tacoma, Washington. She holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Washington-Tacoma. As a multi-talented freelance producer, Serena’s goal has always been to create stories that often don’t get told about real people. Outside of filmmaking, Serena’s interests include reading, writing, watching independent films from around the world (with a specific love for French cinema), discovering new music and dance and spending time with family.

More stories by Serena Berry

There are 0 comments

Read Comments Hide Comments

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <xmp><em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd></xmp>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
As a public media organization, KCTS 9 is committed to presenting a diversity of voices and perspectives through the stories we produce. We invite our readers to participate in an active and respectful discourse through our comments feature. All comments are moderated before posting to our website; if we deem a comment to be inappropriate and/or threatening, it will not be published.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.