100 Women We Love: Class Of 2019

Vanessa Taylor

Photo by Bobby Rogers

Writer Vanessa Taylor converted to Islam before Philando Castile was fatally shot in 2016 and spent her first Eid outside the site of his shooting. A community organizer, she had long been familiar with Black Muslim liberation theology and Malcolm X, but Islam didn’t become a reality for her until she converted. Now based out of Philadelphia, Taylor focuses on exploring Black Muslim womanhood and technology. Her articles appear in Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English, and the Intercept, and her essays and fiction have appeared in Catapult, as Editor’s Pick in Barren Magazine, and in Belt Magazine, where she received a Pushcart Prize nomination. She was also selected to be a part of Muslim Wellness’ inaugural Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders fellowship class, and is a 2019 Echoing Ida cohort member. Taylor came to writing through a natural progression of the community work she had been involved in, including co-founding the Black Liberation Project, a grassroots collective of Black youth in the Twin Cities. Writing is another way she can use her community organizing skills. From her perspective, she doesn’t feel like she wants to be praised for her work, but it’s quite meaningful to know that her work is affecting others. “I love seeing people interact with my pieces once they’re published, especially the fiction ones,” she says. “It’s rewarding anytime people stop me at events or message me online to tell me what a piece meant to them.” —AE


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