Bibi has a bright shining light that instantly caught me like a moth to a flame! Her smile, her glow, her laugh are a blessing! I want you to meet this Beautiful Black Muslim Woman in all her full regalia. Her blog is dedicated to inspiring us to be unapologetically who we are because that’s what she gives. We talked about that, and how being #BlackMuslimGirlFly is a blessing to the world. Check out what she had to say.
Team BMGFLY: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is defined as that “it” factor Black Muslim Girls & Women have that makes them amazing, dope, & fresh-to-death awesome. How would you describe your #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Bibi Watts: It is my undying and unapologetic Blackness, and, my loud and in-charge style. I’m a very big personality, and I dress to fit my mood.
Team BMGFLY: How did you grow into your Muslim identity? And, how does being a Black girl impact that? (Or, if you’re bi-racial, or of multi-ethnic heritage, how does that impact your Muslim identity?)
Bibi: This is an interesting question because I come from a Sufic background. That’s one of the most strict “sects” of Islam. My spiritual leader is actually Pakistani. So growing up, my environment, my main culture was more like the Pakistani, literally. I was always in touch with myself as a Black person, and woman. But, not until maybe the age of 26.7 did I actually start really allowing myself to outwardly display that. Just being unapologetic, learning and researching who I am, what I am, and being okay with the fact that I’m actually Black and Muslim. And, those two things can go together. It was something that I knew all this time. But, people used to call me “Blackistani” growing up. All of our friends at school called us “Blackistani.” Because we learned how to make all of the curries, and the roti, and all of that. It’s not that we didn’t do the other things, but they were kind of on the back burner type. And, that was my culture growing up. But at about 26.7 I started realizing that it’s okay to be Black and Muslim at the same time. I grew up in Houston, Texas, but I’m originally from Philadelphia. I left when I was seven. But the community that I belong to is a Sufic community. I was born into that community and born Muslim. I’d say that I’m a student of the Sufic sciences. But, I am more liberal, so to speak, than that of what you’d see in a Sufic community. It’s a more transcendent “version” of Islam.
Team BMGFLY: How do you maneuver your industry as a Black Muslim Woman?
Bibi: I love that, as a matter of fact. Any room that I walk into, I’m going to stand out. And, even in a room of Muslims, I stand out. I don’t know that I actually maneuver. I think I just show up, and that is my “maneuver.” Because I look different, I speak differently, I carry myself differently, I stand out. And, I am automatically the subject and object of attention. And, I’m okay with that. I’m here, and I’m just who I am. So, I don’t really see myself as maneuvering, I just show up. Even in Muslim spaces. Recently, I was invited to participate in an event with a group of Muslim women and all the sisters chosen were of course “other than” African-American. So, I asked, “Why did you choose me as the ‘Token Black’?” I’m really honest, straight to the point. And, I was told that it’s because I’m so different and so unapologetic. I respect that. There were so many women, an array of African-American Muslim women on different levels, in every field, that could’ve been chosen but they said just because whatever it is that I am, I AM THAT. I’m a Black Muslim, who was raised with Desi culture, and Sufic. Those are all just not things that you’d usually find in an American Black Muslim woman. So, I’m different in every single way.
Team BMGFLY: You host the blog, “Coffee and The Daily Grind.” What made you decide to take that leap of faith and publish a blog?
Bibi: I was in the mortgage industry actually, and I got laid off. And, that’s when I started my blog. I realized I was doing all this stuff and building other people’s dreams, and I should be building my own. Now, I actually do work a regular nine-to-five, in customer service. But, this is what I want to intentionally one day monetize.
Team BMGFly: How would you describe your blog and its main purpose?
Bibi: I want to inspire people. It’s a platform for me to be exactly who I am. And, to display all the ways I’m an artist in every single way and form. There are so many things that I want to do. This platform is a way for me to advertise all of those things, and be able to control it. And, no one else has any ownership or partnership with that. This is mine. This is my baby, it’s who I am and I’m going to do what I want with it.
Team BMGFLY: How did you come up with the title “Coffee and The Daily Grind,” and what’s the story behind it?
Bibi: My husband actually helped me come up with that. I was going through of all these different taglines and titles because I knew I wanted it to be centered around coffee, my number one addiction. Coffee is bae. Even my husband knows he comes after coffee. So, I told him basically, because he’s really good with that kind of stuff, that I wanted coffee to be in it, but for it to encompass everything else, because I’m more than just a blogger. I wanted something all-encompassing. So, that’s how we got “Coffee and the Daily Grind,” because the daily grind is really all-encompassing. The daily grind is raw.
Team BMGFLY: How do you keep aware of what you deliver, and what you have that separates you from others in your industry?
Bibi: I’m an artist, I’m a performer. I’ve been performing since 2009. I do poetry and I sing as well. The initial reason I started performing was to humanize the Muslim experience. This is currently my third blog. The first two were a blogspot, and a tumblr. And it was mostly threads, musings, and my poetry. But, because the blogging industry has changed so much in the last five to ten years, I had to do a lot of research. And, I did. Even still now, there are bloggers that I really admire, their work ethic and the way that they put out content. So, I study. I research, and I watch tutorials. I’m a perfectionist. I still feel like I could be a lot better. But, I think at this beginning stage, only since October 2017, I think I’m doing a good job. It’s still brand new. I’m glad I did it because I was so scared. Because I thought, “What if I mess up?” But, one day I just put it up. I wanted to just go for it. It’s not perfect. And, it’s my natural personality. It’s going to be all over the place, and through this journey, there will be turbulence. But it’s okay to show everyone that because we all go through that. I don’t want to show the “perfected” part of my life, I want to show every part of it. I look on social and I see all these people, and they’re really only showing that curated part of life, and it’s just unrealistic.
Team BMGFLY: What’s the number one thing you hope people will gain from reading it?
Bibi: I want to let people know, who don’t know, that Muslims are normal. We go through the same emotions that everybody else goes through, we just practice those emotions differently. I want to inspire people. And, I want people to know that it’s okay to be who you are. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay to stand out.
Team BMGFLY: What is your “daily grind” like on a typical day? And, tell me about a special event you recently attended as a blogger?
Bibi: I get up at between five and five-fifteen am. I make sure I have breakfast on the table ready for everyone. I make sure I get my children up and ready for school. Then, I head out to work. After I get off from work, I come home and I either cook dinner or start dinner. Then it’s time to eat dinner with the family. Get the children ready for bed. Tidy up. Then, chillax with my husband. We do the tea and chat thing. Then I fall out, or I blog. I’ve gone to several events recently, including BlackGirlMixTape, but not as a blogger. It basically was about how the Black woman and how, although she’s the most hated and disrespected, she’s the most powerful and most educated woman in the world. And, there were discussions of just different aspects of that. I remember three different women spoke with three different viewpoints on that topic. I really enjoyed myself. I felt a connection to myself, and the audience as well. Just listening it was just so raw and so emotional. I learned a lot about myself, about what we’ve been through. It wasn’t that I didn’t know the things they spoke about, but it was more in-depth information. And, that made me want to go do some extra reading.
Team BMGFLY: How does your career impact the other aspects of your life, including your family?
Bibi: This is a tough question for me, because we are always… As wives and mothers it seems as though with men, “that all comes secondary to me and the kids.” The family is supposed to precede everything. I don’t think it’s that or the opposite. I think they should all happen simultaneously. And, so alhamdulillah, I’ve gotten them to a point. I’ve had to mold them into knowing and feeling and being okay with the fact that “Umi is not just Umi, or Wifey is not just Wifey.” I’m an individual as well. And, so they have become a lot more supportive more recently because they see I’m not playing. And, this is not my first marriage. It’s not my first show, and so I’ve already done the back burner. And, I feel like in ways I’ve suffered. And, my growth has suffered because of that. And, so now, I’m at the point where I’m going straight for what I want. I’m going to do all the things that make me happy. And, I’m going to make y’all happy too! So, as long as y’all just allow, accept, and accommodate, it’s okay. Everybody’s going to be taken care of. So, alhamdulillah, they’re more supportive now. Even my son asks, “So, Umi, do you have any blogger events this weekend?” And, things like that. And, then my husband is my photographer. So, it’s like a working relationship with the family. Alhamdulillah, I’m blessed.
Team BMGFLY: Who did you look up to while growing up? Who inspires you now?
Bibi: Oprah. From when I was a little girl, I have always loved her work ethic. And, no matter what, she was determined to be successful. I love her drive. So, it was Oprah definitely, without a doubt, growing up. And, at this point, it’s my mother, because her dedication, to family and her husband, and being domesticated and perfecting that is so phenomenal, and so untouchable. I really, really admire her for the way that she dedicated her entire life to our family. MashaAllah, she is a really beautiful woman. She’s my mother and all, but aside from her being my mother, if I knew her looking from the outside in, she’s an amazing woman. I pray one day to be half the woman that she is. Outside of my mom, honestly, my favorite blogger is Mattie James. She’s a Black woman out of Atlanta. Now, she teaches how to blog, and how to put in the work. And, in performing and poetry, it’s Alyesha Wise from Philadelphia. She is such a badass poet.
Team BMGFLY: Can you describe a moment where you felt defeated, and how did you overcome that?
Bibi: My first divorce, I really felt defeated. I remember the day. It hit me. You know, when we grow up and we’re little girls and we look up to the women that we see in our communities that have been married for all these years. I never wanted to be that Black girl, with a child, that was a divorcee. I cried, and cried, and cried. I just felt defeat, and I remember telling my mother, “I’m a statistic.” That was the first time defeat really hit me. I overcame it with prayer and affirmations. Getting through anything for me has always been a process of me drilling something into myself. I remember when I had my first child and my body changed, and I just continued to tell myself, “You are beautiful, with all of those stretch marks. You’re beautiful still, with all of that.” It was the affirmations, and, the time that I took to really just learn who I was again, and love myself for myself; and, all the things I actually went through, all those experiences. So, prayer and affirmations.
Team BMGFLY: Can you describe a moment where you felt like you defied odds or broke barriers?
Bibi: I break barriers and defy odds every single day, going out of the house being a target as a Black Muslim Woman. That’s three times over. I’ve been in the #MeToo experiences, I’ve had those experiences. I’ve had the racial slurs. I’ve had the Islamophobia. I deal with that on a day to day basis. So, I feel like every day that I go out I am breaking a barrier and I’m defying odds. You got to put on your armor every day.
Team BMGFLY: What would you cite as the foundation of your success?
Bibi: Allah. I can’t cite anything other than that. Allah. And, then just my insatiable desire to be successful. I feel like from each failure, which I continue, and continue, and continue to fail, it’s all a success as well because I’m still pushing. I haven’t given up. The foundation honestly is Allah. I think if I were not to have that kind of faith, and that kind of love I have, and an understanding of who Allah is and what He does for me, I literarily would not be anything. So, I can only give it to Allah; His permission and His will.
Team BMGFLY: #BlackMuslimGirlFly is an empowerment brand created to uplift and remind Black girls that they are FLY in many ways. What advice would you give all the Black Muslim girls out there, worldwide, to cultivate their own individual #BlackMuslimGirlFly?
Bibi: First, Black Muslim Girl. It’s okay to be Black. Islam is not a color, it’s not a race, it’s not a nationality. Islam and Blackness are not mutually exclusive. Don’t allow anyone else to define who you are, and what your Islam is, and what it looks like. Just the fact that you exist as a Black Muslim Woman is #BlackMuslimGirlFly! Be that, and own that, and love that. And, display that. There are so many things; I can talk about that forever. It’s a heavy weight, it’s a blessing!
Team BMGFLY: What’s something you haven’t done yet, but would like to do next?
Bibi: I’m working on a book of haikus, which is a self-love journey for women. And, I took the first few steps this week to launching my clothing line.
*FOLLOW “COFFEE AND THE DAILY GRIND” HERE: http://coffeeandthedailygrind.com/*
*Thanks again for sharing your story with us and the rest of the world. I believe it’s very important for us, Black Muslim Girls and Women, to stand up and speak up and let the world know we are here and we’re making things happen. For far too long, we’ve been made to be invisible, and that ends now.*