A few weeks ago I found out that the Muslim Student Association on my campus was going to host a “Wear a Hijab” event. I immediately said “yes I will do it”, and I am glad I did. After saying yes, I looked at my calendar and realized one of my most important multicultural leadership awards events was occurring and I was traveling to Atlanta on that day.
When I realized I was traveling that day I thought for a hot second…..”Girl are you about to get on a plane with all this foolishness going on in the United States with a hijab on?” My response was, “Yes, yes you are. Just like you can’t take your Black skin off….these women can’t take their hijab’s off in public”. I did not want to pick and choose when it was comfortable for my situation. It would defeat the purpose.
First let me say my overall experience was good. I was not ridiculed or harassed or treated badly, but I cannot lie and say that I did not get prayed up and get into a mindset to help me deal with whatever would come my way. During this experience I was stretched and learned some lessons. Take the journey with me:
Lesson 1: Race/ethnic culture participation is easy for me but religious cultural participation is new and a stretch experience. I know very little about the Muslim faith, so I did not have any insight on how to handle the intangible standoffness that individuals who wear a hijab may experience. I did not know how to not be offended by black individuals not looking me in my eyes at all, when typically I engage in non communicative conversation with black people as I move through different spaces. “It’s usually a glance in the eyes that speaks “hi, if no one sees you I see you. Keep doing you,” I missed that today when I traveled.
Lesson 2: It’s not a big deal……I’m not going to lie I thought I was going to experience something negative and I found myself saying….”Girl these people are not stuntin you, how you choose to express yourself is your business” Now, I know that my Muslim friends do experience ignorance and hatred, but I should not be on the ready at all times. What I learned through this experience is about peace, and being comfortable with my choices. Things will happen and no one wants to be caught off guard but a peaceful person cannot live in that space.
Lesson 3: Wearing a hijab also is fashion
Preparing for this event my husband and I watched You Tube videos to learn how wear it and I found all these cute and chic ways women were wearing a hijab. As I look at women in hijabs I have another level of appreciation for the art of wearing a hijab.
Lesson 4: It is a struggle to shop in Manhattan, KS for cute, suitable clothing. Participating in this event I also had to have my arms and legs covered. I stressed about this for a couple of weeks because I had an event this day and all I have are either cap shoulder or no sleeve dresses, or dresses that stop at my knee. I would be traveling a few hours after my event, so I wanted to be comfortable, and today Manhattan decided it wanted to be 83 degrees. Now, the scarf was not hot at all, but I had nothing to wear that was weather, job and event appropriate. I thought I would go to Dillards and find a cute long sleeve black shirt and wear some black bottom and allow the tan scarf to pop. Well that plan DID NOT work. The shirts that were long sleeve were either winter, or women’s world fashion….not my idea of chic, cute. I was discouraged but it made me think about all of the women who dress like this everyday and cannot just run to the store and find something cute. We have a lot of fashionistas in hijab on campus and they either shop online or go on a shopping spree when they go home. Once again much admiration.
Lesson 5: My final lesson I will share is, the airport people don’t always know the rules. So I have pre-check status and as I was going through security and the TSA person asked their colleague “so I just let her go???” the other TSA said “yea…..that’s what it says so I guess you have to let her go?” the TSA guy says “Oooookay???”
Pre-check means I did the work to get advance security screening, so I can participate in the expedited security check. So I found it odd that there was still question about me being checked.
Today was a good day, my event was fabulous, the Muslim Student Association had a wonderful event, I was stretched by this activity and I arrived in Atlanta safely.
Until we chat again