Imani Bashir: Living Fearlessly and Free
"I feel like I'm allowed to enjoy my life and not feel guilty about it, while living it to the fullest." Former sports broadcaster Imani Bashir talks about her career in broadcasting as a Muslim woman of color. With her sports career behind her, Bashir is living her best life through traveling, focusing on family, and encouraging other women to the same.
Tell us about your background as a sports broadcaster and your most memorable and proudest moment.
I first began Sports Broadcasting in 2011. I majored in Communications at Delaware State University, but didn't graduate “on time”. I got a call from my uncle who created his own radio network (Heritage Sports) that began broadcasting HBCU basketball and football, exclusively and he asked me to do some Sideline reporting for the weekend. Prior to then, my only experience had been shadowing Pam Oliver (formerly of FOX Sports) and my classes in college. In one week, we did 7 football games in 3 states and I had grown in my craft very, very quickly!
My most memorable moment had to be meeting Idris Elba. I was covering the SWAC basketball tournament in Houston. I was listening to the P.A. Announcer make the introduction, but then he said “this Emmy award nominated actor”... I was thinking to myself “who the heck got nominated for an Emmy and is coming here?” Next thing I know he's running on the court shooting a layup. That was one of the only times I used my media badge privilege to get through the crowd and he asked me to take a selfie. To this day, I keep that picture saved on every device I own.
My proudest moment was when I learned to assert myself, as a professional. I remember Pam told me that people would call her a b- because she asserted herself, but she didn't mind because she had a job to do. I was covering the CIAA tournament in Charlotte, for the first time and had an interview set up with Gospel Legend, Fred Hammond. I was excited and my team tossed it to me live. All of a sudden a lady, working for the arena, screams at me that I could not stand where I was standing, that I was in the way and that we had to move right away. We were live on-air, I had just done my intro of who I was interviewing and I had never encountered this before. I was heated! I went up to the booth, got myself together and let's just say up until my last year covering the tournament, they made sure whatever celebrity or notable figure was in the building, I was the first to know and they'd set me up for an interview! And I also got to finish my interview with Fred Hammond. He was my first celebrity interview.
Tell us about the the challenges you faced as a Muslim woman of color during your broadcasting career and how you feel about the lack of representation in American media for women who look like you?
I find that I received more respect being open in my faith. I also found that people willingly looked me in the eye and appreciated that I was focused on doing my job! I don't recall ever feeling like people were looking at me a certain way, even when I covered games outside of HBCU’s. I believe that it is very important that the American media represents Black Muslim women, as we have been in this country since its conception. The idea that you can target us, stereotype the faith, but choose not to show that we represent a very undeserved part of this nation is crazy. The face of Muslim women in the mainstream, just as any situation with culture and race, are often saturated with non-people of color. That's a small percentage compared to Muslim women of color (Black women specifically).
In a recent Instagram post, you mentioned that you walked away from your career in search of inner fulfillment. What was the defining moment that made you give it up and leave the country?
I had just completed my degree in December of 2014, after a 6-year hiatus. I finished my last basketball tournament for March Madness in 2015 and prior to then had the pleasure of going to Egypt to visit. It was during my travels that I knew I wanted to do something else. I didn't know exactly what that “something else” was, but I often tell people that travel will change your perspective on a lot of things, including yourself. In the off-season, I was working a temp job and I believe it was then that I decided moving abroad was my next move. The plan was not, necessarily, to move to Egypt, but that's where I took my talents and I am grateful and blessed for having made that choice.
What changes would you like see going forward with women in sports and media?
Being on the heels of the debacle surrounding Jemele Hill and ESPN, I want to see support. I want to see the men in the industry backing their sisters and opening up when they are treated unjustly! I want to see them pushing for women who know the game and the logistics and not the Barbie, I only contribute questions on a card style reporting. I want to see women that have opinions and thought-provoking content that's not on “The View”. There's a lot more to the world of sports and I would like to see more women that push the envelope, specifically women of color.
I want to see Muslim women in the WNBA and other pro sports leagues, playing ball overseas, and not being discriminated against for wearing hijab. I appreciate sisters like Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir for bringing this issue to the forefront and providing a movement through “Muslim Girls Hoop Too!”
Tell us about your experience now living abroad and how your life has changed since your move to Egypt. What’s your favorite place you have visited.
Living abroad has really opened my eyes to a security of life that I have never truly felt, living in the states. I find that I'm not stressed about trivial things such as bills, going to the doctor, going out to eat, etc. I feel like I'm allowed to enjoy my life and not feel guilty about it, while living it to the fullest. My favorite place to visit is Thailand. Thai culture is very regal, the people are kind and the food is impeccable! It's also one of the cheapest places I've visited.
Tell us about your lifestyle brand She is Abroad the Young Queens retreat you having coming up next Spring.
She Is Abroad™ is a lifestyle brand that's devoted to women who are committed to experiencing & living life through the visibility of their own lenses. She Is Abroad™ represents the story of she who dreams, she who dares & she who does, while cultivating her best self through travel!
The Young Queens Retreat is set for March 2018 in Cairo, Egypt. It will be 7 days and 6 nights for young women 20-28 years of age. I have 3 mentors from around the world who will be holding life skills workshops for the participants. A part of the retreat package will be a self-care spa day, tours of the pyramids and museums, 3 meals daily, lodging in a private villa, and a photoshoot at a disclosed location! Registration is open and the cost is very low in comparison to retreats around the world. Payment plans are available and they can find more information at https://imabash.wixsite.com/youngqueensretreat
How can women stay connected with you via your social channels?
Women can stay connected with me via Instagram and Twitter @SheIsAbroad_. I have a Facebook group devoted to young women who are interested in travel, deals, pics, blogs, etc. it's a private group that is supportive of women of all backgrounds and levels in life. Its purpose is to show that everyone can travel, yet not make anyone feel low for not being able to. They can add the group @ SheIsABroad™