Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sometimes it's hard being a hijabi/convert

Alhamdulillah, the video posted above gave me a little inspiration. I have days or times when being a hijabi/convert are really difficult. In my new city (unlike the old one) hijabi women are not very visible. So far, I've only seen one woman in hijab outside of the masjid. I've already had one very frustrating situation. Let me tell you about it:

Early one morning we were in the bedroom sleeping and the apartment manager knocked on the front door. My husband answered and then he came back into the room to tell me to get dressed because a guy needed to come in to inspect the apartment. Half asleep I threw on an abaya and hijab, then made my way out to the living room. The apartment manager was standing in the doorway. She turned to my husband and asked, "Is she gonna be staying here?" Even though she didn't direct her question to me (something I find very rude by the way), I yawned and said yes I was staying. She turned to my husband and asked "Does she speak English?" WTH? "Of course I speak English!" I spat back at her. She apologized saying she didn't hear me the first time. Still she ignored me and told my husband that "she" needs to come down to the rental office and fill out an application since "she" is staying. Needless to say I was pissed. I understand she needed me to fill out the paperwork since I wasn't here when he first got the apartment but she was very rude. I told my husband I'm not going into the office by myself. I need a witness there just in case she says something else offensive.

It's amazing how someone can step into your life for a brief moment and make you feel like crap. The aforementioned incident is one of many that I have endured since I started wearing hijab over 6 years ago. Some days I can laugh at these incidents. Other days I become enraged by the stereotyping and bigotry. Then there are days when I simply feel hurt by them. Maybe if they didn't happen so suddenly, so unexpectedly it would be easier. But as many of you know, racist incidents tend to catch the recipient off guard. You're floating along, minding your own business and BAM racism smacks you in the face.

I'm tired y'all. Really tired of dealing with other people's racist beliefs, stereotypes, and prejudices. I'm tired of people assuming they know my country of origin, my comprehension of the English language, my beliefs or even who I am. I know it's a part of the struggle. And I know, at the end of the day, I'm in a unique position where I can challenge people's perceptions of Muslim women. However, that doesn't mean I don't get tired, you know?


Anonymous said...

Try not to get emotional the next time something like this happens. Let people enjoy and believe what they THINK they know. i.e. Go to the office let her act and say things as if you don't understand. After you fill out the application, read the housing discimination policy that must be posted in the office. Then ask her if she has any questions about what she just heard you read and then tell her you have some questions about what she said as it applies to what you just read. The shock on her face would be priceless. I know not nice but it sure feels good. My latina friend was very good at this, hiliarious. Shucks my grandpa does it all the time acting like he can't hear, only to reply with some sassy answer.

Anonymous said...

AsSalamu 'alaykum sis,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience, that's shocking. I'm an African Muslimah in the U.K. but alhamduliLlah i haven't been through anything nearly as bad.

Know that you are not alone, may Allah Make it easy for you and all of us.

Stay strong, A.