I’ve always experienced microaggressions growing up. From people asking me, “So, like, what are you?” to comments like “You don’t act like a regular Arab girl”. So I thought I would be ready for the harsh words coming my way when I decided to put on the scarf. People always ask me why I decided to put it on and I answer them simply by stating, “That I never know when I’m about to die and I feel ready.”During my time of need, I turned to faith and it helped me heal.
I lost track. Anyways, I remember thinking that I was ready. I’m ready to face the world as a visible Muslim woman. However, I wasn’t ready for the nasty words that came my way the second day of wearing the scarf. My train conductor cringed when he took a look at me. “Did you know how beautiful you looked. Why would you do this?” It didn’t really register what he said to me until later. I was furious driving home, but I didn’t take what he said to heart because I knew that he didn’t understand.
That same day as I was walking to class with a few friends, a man approached me with hatred and disgust on his face saying “Go back to your country. You and your religion”. At first, I didn’t know if I was hearing him correctly. I stopped and asked him to say what he said again. I’ve always been a fighter and someone who just see’s black when they’re filled with rage. I told him to step up and come and fight me. My friends had to hold me back and I was dragged back to class still yelling. Later, when I told my parents what happened. My mom was worried, but then she was furious. She was mad at me for showing a reaction because he could have had a gun. “You could have been shot. Why do you always have to talk back?”
Just a few weeks ago, a man stopped me in the middle of the city and punched me because of a piece of cloth on my head. I was in shock and I forgot my mother’s words. I reacted and of course, I was ready to fight. What I didn’t expect was that he was ready to fight too. He dropped his backpack and my friends pushed me away from the crowd and ran towards another area. At first, I started laughing but then my laughing turned into me sobbing. I cried that entire week any time I was left alone.
I’m writing this because it’s still hard. Every day that I’m in the hijab is difficult for me, but I’m still here and I’m still wearing it.
I know that no matter how tough it gets; I’ll still be strong because God is on my side. It upsets me when I hear others judging girls who take off their hijab. You don’t know their struggle and you don’t know what they’ve been through. Be kind to them and always remember to be kind to yourself. Yes, the world may be cruel, but that doesn’t mean you have to be too.