Surefire

Solidarity is important, especially in the current political climate. It is very important for all of us to stand together in the face of injustice. But calling me out when you see me at a CVS and telling me that “I’m welcome and I belong here” is not the right way. I’m sure that your intent is to make me feel better or safer but all you’ve done is make me uncomfortable. I was born and raised in the United States, a red state to be more specific and I’ve dealt with backlash my whole life. This is something that has been following me since elementary school. From a young age, I’ve known that I won’t be fully accepted in the only country I’ve called home. I will always be asked “where are you from?” and the answer “Miami” just does not satisfy them.

Recently, I’ve encountered people who come up to me and tell me that “you’re welcome here” and all I can do is give them a dumbfounded look. I know that they mean well but think about it this way… you’re calling me out in a very public place to tell me that you accept me. First of all, awkward… because now everyone is staring at me and patronizing me because it makes YOU feel good. It has nothing to do with me. You’re only doing this to appear to be a good person and frankly I don’t care for that. I think the problem here is that you are assuming that every Muslim you meet is either a refugee or an immigrant. Which is closeminded and ignorant. This current trend is off-putting to say the least because I don’t need anyone’s approval but you still feel the need to give it to me. This country has been mine and will be mine and your opinion literally doesn’t matter nor does it affect me in any way.

Speaking of bad methods of solidarity, let’s talk about John Legend’s new music video “Surefire.” I know the current political climate is tense and people are trying really hard to act “accepting” towards Muslims. Which I understand and I’m sure the intent was in the right place but honestly, what the hell was that?

So the video shows a young Muslim girl and a young Christian boy who are in love. The video goes through a montage of them hanging out and falling in love. When they get back to her house her parents catch her and her dad is SUPER aggressive towards the two of them. If I told my dad I was seeing a non-Muslim boy of course he would be confused and concerned but he would not be RAGE RAGE I FORBID YOU TO SEE HIM EVER AGAIN AND I’M GOING TO CALL THE POLICE ON HIM! This portrayal of the Muslim dad perpetuates the notion that our dads are aggressive and cannot be reasoned with. They are seen as people who you have to tip toe around and who see their daughters as people who cannot have their own opinions. Basically, you’re taking stereotypes and twisting them for your own gain. So how was that helpful?

Okay so then, her dad fires at the boy she is seeing then calls the police on him to get him deported. Um? So again you are reiterating the stereotype that Muslim men are aggressive and unreasonable because he doesn’t like the fact that his daughter is seeing a non-Muslim boy. How can you portray a man who is discriminated against, a man who understands the struggle of being a minority, to be bigoted towards another minority and call that a progressive music video?

Here’s the part that really gets me, so the Muslim girl decides to hitchhike to Mexico after she realizes that her boyfriend has been deported. As she’s leaving, her mom stops her and hands her a tasbee… LIKE HER MOM IS REALLY GONNA LET HER HITCHHIKE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR A BOY? Mess. Because obviously if your mom is willing to let you go, she’d get you a flight instead and go with you. Again, this shows that Muslim girls don’t have a voice and that her parents cannot be reasoned with and that’s why she felt like hitchhiking to Mexico was her only option.

I didn’t find this video to progressive or helpful given the current political climate. This video was a bad job at showing a Muslim family and how issues are dealt with in our households. To someone who doesn’t personally know any Muslims this is the idea that you’re leaving in their head. 1. Muslim women have to sneak around to do anything. 2. Our mothers are submissive and cannot stand up to our dads. 3. Our dads are rage monsters who don’t listen to or value our opinions. If you have never been exposed to a Muslim family before this is what you will believe that all of our families are like. But in reality, Muslim moms are not submissive and they run the household. My dad is my bestfriend and most Muslim dads are some of the most compassionate and generous people. I can’t speak for everyone but that is the majority. Islam gives women rights and it was the first religion to do so. Women are held at a high standard in Islam. This video seems to just belittle all of that but showing us to be damsels in distress.

This video just takes stereotype after stereotype and displays it in the worst possible way.  John Legend is someone who constantly speaks out against injustice and understands how harmful stereotypes can be so why would he make a video just full of stereotypes is very confusing. There are ways to be an ally but this video was definitely not a way. After watching this video, I’m convinced John Legend has never met a Muslim before.

In the words of Johnathan Scott, “no renovation is better than a bad renovation.” And this video was a horrible renovation.

 

“Aren’t You Hot In That?” Is Not A Question

As we approach the warmer months in the Northern Hemisphere, the rising temperatures seem to not only be making people sweat, but also judgmental of what others are wearing. Let me be more specific: these warmer days bring nice vibes, but also truly act as a burden for women.

Growing up I used to wear shirts with short sleeves and even capri pants here and there. As I became older and was more drawn to learning about the meanings behind the teachings in Islam, I made the personal decision to not wear clothes that revealed my arms or legs. It’s funny because out of the twelve months in a year, my modest fashion choices seem to be a real concern for others for about five of those months. As soon as the days start getting to 70°F and up in New York, as a woman, you’re expected to whip out your shorts and knee length dresses. There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.

Getting comments such as, “Aren’t you hot in that!?” when I’m wearing a full length cardigan and boyfriend jeans, is extremely unnecessary. Why would you say that to someone anyway? It’s just awkward – how am I supposed to respond? Over the years I’ve noticed that people only relay these types of vapid statements to women and girls. You will never (or rarely) catch anyone saying anything of this nature to a guy. I’ve seen men in full suits when it’s 80°F outside, and absolutely no one questions them about it. It’s fine for them. They don’t need to show their skin. No one expects or has been trained to have entitlement over their bodies or their choices.

“There is nothing wrong with wearing shorts or dresses, but please, don’t try and make me feel like I should be too.”

I’ve thought about this concept a lot. It’s honestly not rocket science to understand. It’s easy to see how women and girls are hyper-sexualized to an insane degree. It starts young and develops and becomes a part of our psyche. The “fashion icons” we idealize and give great importance to in mainstream media, dictate how we perceive women in our everyday lives. We begin to expect all women to look and act a certain way. I will stress this again; there is nothing wrong with women who choose to wear shorts, dresses, or anything else for that matter. There is a real problem however, with how much freedom and agency we have over our own bodies. As soon as people see a woman who is wearing clothes that cover her entire body, it’s as if they see it as an invitation to scrutinize and question her to no end. We don’t have a choice anymore. I don’t want you to look at me. I don’t want you to look at my body. My body is mine, and I choose what to do with it. My personal decisions are mine and I don’t need to provide answers for anyone who really doesn’t know or care about me, but is only asking if I’m “so hot in all those clothes,” because they aren’t used to not seeing a woman’s flesh. You’ve been hypnotized to keep your mind within a tiny box. You primarily see women for their bodies. We are objects to the human eye, no different from automobiles at this point. Regardless of what I wear, I will be objectified and belittled down to what I’m wearing. So, I might as well wear what I want and not be succumbed to the pressure of wearing what will please the people. My purpose is far greater than pleasing people.

This also goes out to all of my sisters who wear the hijab every day. I can’t imagine the incessant nagging they go through during these months (let alone the entire year). This is also for women out there who simply don’t feel comfortable with showing off their body for whatever reason. You do not know what a person is going through or why a person chooses to live their life a certain way. By you exclaiming, “WOW! Aren’t you sweating with all of those clothes on?!” you’re impeding on someone’s personal choice. “Aren’t you hot in that?” is not a question. It is a social indication that if you are a woman who isn’t revealing her body, then you are an “other.” It’s a statement that highlights the ever so present, and undying patriarchal structures that keep us imprisoned in immobile mindsets. ‘Asking’ someone if they’re “hot in that” is not a question at all, but a firm reminder that women are not allowed to be in charge of their own bodies and their own choices.

Leave people the hell alone when it comes to what they wear, it literally does not matter. Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin? Also, newsflash, when it’s 90°F out, everyone is going to be hot. Whether you’re wearing a bikini or a burqa, heat is heat and the sun’s power does not let up just because you’re showing some more skin.

“Why are people so offended by me not showing my skin?”

I wear what I want to wear. I will continue to dress how I want based on my own personal decisions and beliefs. I wear what I want to wear and I do not have to give anyone an explanation about it. Ever.

What’s Haram For Me Is Haram For You

So let’s get one thing straight, WHAT IS HARAM FOR ME IS HARAM FOR YOU. Just because I choose to wear a hijab does not mean that I am held to a different standard than a sister who doesn’t wear a hijab nor am I held to a different standard than a Muslim man. Continue reading “What’s Haram For Me Is Haram For You”