McSA apologizes for rapper Lupe Fiasco’s joke involving transgender people at speaker event


Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Chicago-born rapper Lupe Fiasco speaks during McSA fall speaker event Thursday night. Fiasco discussed his personal experiences with the Muslim faith.

Hannah Brown, Reporter

Chicago-born rapper Lupe Fiasco took the stage in Galvin Hall Thursday night as the Muslim-cultural Student Association’s fall speaker and ended his speech with a joke involving transgender people as the punchline, resulting in the group making a statement of apology.

“What do you call a woman with a Saudi Arabian driver’s license?” Fiasco asked the audience. “Transgender.”

McSA president Rimsha Ganatra said the group apologizes for the joke Fiasco made.

“We were unaware that the joke was going to happen, but we do not condone any offensive speech particularly in regards to gender identity,” Ganatra said.

The Weinberg senior said McSA recognizes the effect something like this can have and that the group will work toward making sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We don’t want to offend anyone, and we hope everyone enjoyed the event otherwise,” Ganatra said.

During the rest of the talk, Fiasco opened up about his faith and his ongoing struggles with it, which he said, for him, began at birth.

“I was born Muslim, but not raised Muslim,” Fiasco said. “It was my religion, not my culture.”

Fiasco said he was 13 years-old when he felt the full weight of the responsibility of maintaining his faith, something he said he was unprepared for. He went on to describe his feelings of alienation from the religious institution of Islam, to which the audience responded with nods and snaps.

“I don’t know if we had speakers like him when I was here,” Sarah Iftekhar (Weinberg ’05), Muslim Alumni Association vice president, told The Daily. “He’s certainly high profile … and I think the association has done a great job with instances like this in reaching out to the greater Northwestern community.”

Audience members said they related to Fiasco’s feelings about the pressure of having to live up and take ownership of their own religion.

Lina Lemke, a high school sophomore at Lane Tech High School in Chicago who attended the event, told The Daily that she could relate to Fiasco’s experiences.

“I felt that pressure when I was that age,” Lemke said. “I wanted to take on that responsibility to better myself but I thought it was just me, just part of my personality, until he spoke about it.”

McCormick freshman Fatima Alkhunaizi told The Daily that Fiasco’s talk exceeded her expectations, especially as someone “who didn’t know anything about him” going into the event.

Fiasco said while it hasn’t always been easy or fun, he isn’t deterred from what his faith is supposed to be.

“Faith isn’t about any of that,” Fiasco said. “It’s about, in the face of all of that, how you retain your goodness. … The things that worked for your grandparents don’t work for us anymore, and that is part of faith too.”

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