I am a Muslim and I have dreams and aspirations just like you.
Shortly after I was born in Missouri, my parents moved us frequently during my childhood till my dad could get a stable engineering job and till we found the perfect “home” that met all our needs. New Jersey was wonderful. I grew up there with the few cousins I have in America and I immensely crave that sense of family and homeliness.
New Jersey was too cold and pneumonia every winter wasn’t something I looked forward to every year. On the day of my 8th birthday, we hopped into our Denim Blue Mica Toyota Sienna to drive to Texas, where my dad found his ideal job. Houston is my home now and I wouldn’t want to have been raised anywhere else. I am taken aback by the beauty of this city, it’s cultural diversity, and friendly Texans who ride horses to school (don’t tell me you fell for that).
Since I was a child, I always knew I would do something artistic in life. My dream has always been to go into the film industry and it still is. Now that I started wearing a headscarf two weeks ago, I am putting acting on the hold, but I can always direct films. For now, I am focusing on becoming a journalist. It’s not going to be easy at all but this is a choice I made for myself. Not going to lie, I question my decision more frequently than I should. But I know that this scarf only makes me unique and stronger.
Maybe I am one step behind in my career. However hard others have to persevere to break into the journalism industry, I have to try twice as hard just to convince people I am not a threat before they even consider looking at the resume I so carefully put together. That doesn’t stop me from pursuing my dreams. I am going to strive just so I can put an end to this discrimination and make life easier for headscarf-wearing women all over the country.
This one article of clothing changes everyone’s perception of me and I don’t understand why. I am still the same quirky, funny (at least I think I am), creative, ambitious and generous person I was two weeks ago when no one even assumed I am Muslim at first glance. Come on, I am that girl who cries when she sees an animal in pain. I just changed my sense of style and now I am seen as some kind of criminal.
My parents are somewhat lenient in these kinds of things and I am so grateful for them. Not once have they pressured me into doing something I don’t want, so don’t tell me I am oppressed. What is oppression? Merriam Webster defines oppression as “the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.” The only people oppressing me are those people denying me jobs in a career I know I am skilled in. It sure as hell isn’t my religion.
And for those people who randomly shout “Allahu Akbar” at the Muslims they see, does anyone actually know what it means? It means “Allah (our name for the same God Christians believe is Jesus’s Father, just through the preachings of their own religion) is greatest.”Atheists and people of other religions, you do you. I still respect and love you as humans.
Just because stereotypically, terrorists scream this phrase before murdering innocent people like us (because they psychotically think that’s what God wants them to do) doesn’t mean “Allahu Akbar” is a bad phrase that you say to insult Muslims. You can kill someone saying “Potatoes.” Does that make potatoes bad? No. I still love my french fries. And you know what? God is awesome. So Allahu Akbar. I wish peace for every one of you and I hope all of you are given all the happiness you can ask for.
Do I still scare you?
How about now?
Please share this on your social media. Change must start now. Let’s end this struggle together.