Carlos Khalil Guzman has been earning plenty of frequent flier miles lately. The photographer and Brooklyn native spent the past two years traveling the country, building a photo series which he hopes can broaden people’s minds when it comes to their perception of Muslims — particularly in this political moment, when our differences are used as a wedge.
Guzman, who reverted (the term “revert” is preferred to “convert” as it’s seen as a return to the natural state) to Islam in college after being raised Catholic, had heard stories about friends being detained while traveling and has been subjected to plenty of quasi-random searches himself. He has female friends taking martial arts and self-defense classes while others limit how they practice their faith — removing their hijabs before boarding an airplane to avoid being questioned. He explains that he noticed a spike in hate crimes against the Muslim community over the past few years, but feels like the 2016 Presidential election brought things to a head. After Trump took office, it became clear that the time was right to unveil his work.
“I’m a photographer. I thought, ‘How can I use my craft to educate people?'” Guzman explains. “Usually when mainstream media report something about Islam, they only associate it with terrorism, especially in the Midwest where there’s not a lot of diversity. If people don’t take the time learn about it, then obviously they’re going to have a bias.”