Tales of a College Nothing













I went to the mall, and a little girl called me a terrorist.

My name is Ela. I am seventeen years old. I am not Muslim, but my friend told me about her friend being discriminated against for wearing a hijab. So I decided to see the discrimination firsthand to get a better understanding of what Muslim women go through.

My friend and I pinned scarves around our heads, and then we went to the mall. Normally, vendors try to get us to buy things and ask us to sample a snack. Clerks usually ask us if we need help, tell us about sales, and smile at us. Not today. People, including vendors, clerks, and other shoppers, wouldn’t look at us. They didn’t talk to us. They acted like we didn’t exist. They didn’t want to be caught staring at us, so they didn’t look at all.

And then, in one store, a girl (who looked about four years old) asked her mom if my friend and I were terrorists. She wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. I don’t even think she could have grasped the idea of prejudice. However, her mother’s response is one I can never forgive or forget. The mother hushed her child, glared at me, and then took her daughter by the hand and led her out of the store.

All that because I put a scarf on my head. Just like that, a mother taught her little girl that being Muslim was evil. It didn’t matter that I was a nice person. All that mattered was that I looked different. That little girl may grow up and teach her children the same thing.

This experiment gave me a huge wakeup call. It lasted for only a few hours, so I can’t even begin to imagine how much prejudice Muslim girls go through every day. It reminded me of something that many people know but rarely remember: the women in hijabs are people, just like all those women out there who aren’t Muslim.

People of Tumblr, please help me spread this message. Treat Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Taoists, etc., exactly the way you want to be treated, regardless of what they’re wearing or not wearing, no exceptions. Reblog this. Tell your friends. I don’t know that the world will ever totally wipe out prejudice, but we can try, one blog at a time.

coming up next on white people solve racism

muslim women dont need your white saviour attitude, you might now finally realise what it’s like to be excluded from society because of a piece of garment but you’re never going to experience it in the way we do.

she literally worded this so well and so honestly and tried so hard not to be rude, she just tried to understand what you go through. she’s not trying to be a saviour, she’s trying to raise awareness. she never said she’d solve anything or experience it like you do. stop doing exactly what other people do to you and shut down someones ideas just because of their color or religion or anything. this is a valid and completely pure hearted thing.


It’s funny how people act like white people are the biggest douchebags, and then act like total asshats themselves, huh?

She did this to get a GLIMPSE into the shit Muslim women are put through. She never claimed total understanding; in fact she said that she “can’t even begin to imagine how much prejudice Muslim girls go through every day.” She ADMITTED that she doesn’t know everything these women go through, and yet she’s STILL attacked? I cannot fathom why it’s deemed “okay” to be prejudiced against white people, even when we try to understand what it is people of other ethnicities/skin tones/nationalities/religions/etc go through. If you want, we can stop trying to understand and let everyone wallow in their self-pity.

(Feel free to skip this rant!)

She was only trying to experience a small piece of the prejudice first hand. That’s it. She wanted to know what it was like for herself, instead of hearing stories and having to be told.

Don’t attack her for trying to understand, especially not when that’s what you ask for. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want people to understand and try to change societies views on race and religion, and then get pissed off when they do try BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE OR RELIGION. That is called being a hypocrit.

Open your mind and see what she was aiming at doing. If you don’t want to be discriminated against because of your religion, don’t start by discriminating against others based on their race. You’re no better than anyone else if you do.

If the problem was her wearing the hijab when she isn’t Muslim, fine. I could understand that, but she was trying to understand a piece of what Muslim women go through, and couldn’t do that properly without wearing a hijab, because she wanted to know how differently the public would treat her.

She was trying to understand, and you sent the massage of “No, we don’t want you to understand because you’re white. How dare you try to see things from our point of view!” Bringing someone’s skin colour into the conversation AT ALL is racist. It shouldn’t matter what colour her skin is. She could be fucking purple and she would still only be trying to experience what it’s like so that she could RAISE AWARENESS and get people thinking. She can’t changer her race.

If you’re so upset by her trying to understand, do you actually want to eliminate prejudice? Because it sounds like you don’t want people to even attempt to understand, so that you can say “No, you’re (white/black/Asian/Hispanic/etc). You can’t understand what I’m going through!”

There are, undoubtedly, many Muslim women who saw what she was trying to do, and saw that it was good. Who accepted and were pleased with her actions. It’s close-minded people like the first two commenters who are the reason I felt the need to rant like this. Apologies to anyone else for the rant.

P.S. A person of any skin colour can be Muslim, because Islam is a religion. It’s more common in Arab nations, but by no means exclusive.

Most Muslims are actually non-Arab. There were Yugoslavian Muslims that actually participated int he Holocaust and everything.

She couldn’t find a way to understand that didn’t make her the star of this narrative or appropriating the hijab? She couldn’t talk to a Muslim woman? Read things written by Muslim women? Watch a documentary?

What exactly did she gain from doing this that she couldn’t have gained by doing any of those other things? What exactly did she learn? That Muslim women face discrimination? Did she not know that before?

I don’t think the problem is PoC not wanting white folks to understand oppression. If more white people understood that PoC face racist bullshit everyday, maybe more of them would work on addressing the behavior they engage in that perpetuates it.

The problem is that someone thinks that twenty minutes in a hijab makes a white person a better spokesperson for Muslim women than people who have lived their entire lives as such.

If this was about raising awareness, why couldn’t she have found a way to do that that provided a voice to Muslim women? This is one more way to silence these women and exclude them from discussions about the issues that affect them.

Muslim women who post their experiences with oppression on Tumblr hear way worse than people calling them problematic. And they sure as fuck don’t get 25,000+ notes.

If you really care about Muslim women, why not support them and help them be heard instead of standing up for yet another white person with a savior complex?

Actually I didn’t think of it from that perspective, thanks for pointing that out to me. But I stand by what I said, Islamophobia is not strictly a Persian woman’s problem, that all I was trying to point out.

this dialogue is the problem. I encourage people all the time to do this. step into another culture to change your worldview. Now everyone is going off on her. stupid

If she had spoken with Muslims and told them she wanted a better understanding of Islamophobia, and they suggested this and then she shared what she learned from talking to actual Muslims as well, I would have no problem. The Muslim Student Association at NC State does this regularly. They invite non-Muslims to veil for a day. Then those people share those experiences and listen to speakers who talk about the historical, religious, and cultural meanings of veiling. She didn’t do that, tho.

Also, you can’t “step into a culture” by playing dress up. That’s not how that works.

About a year ago I attended a Hijab challenge that was hosted by the Muslim Students Association at my school (Cal State University San Bernardino). I wore the hijab for a week, then at the end of the week we came together in the student union to talk about our experiences. We were handed pamphlets that teach a little bit about the importance of a hijab and how it’s a very empowering and independent decision made by Muslim women (it isn’t oppressing). I learned a lot from this experience, all while paying HOMAGE to the culture and giving credit where credit is due! This girl is coming off as a “white savior,” who not only appropriated the hijab to her manner, but made herself the center of attention to a movement that ISN’T hers. There are many ways to be an ally of Muslim women. Silencing them and speaking for them is not one.

(Source: olentaalla)

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