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This is What It’s Like Being Visibly Muslim on NYC Transit

The work day just ended, and it’s rush hour.

There are two seats open to my right, and the lady next to me has a pencil pointed upward. Also, the train is packed. Some creep is trying to slyly take a picture of me.

I put my head down for two reasons: I was worried that this lady with the pencil in her hand was going to try to stab me with it because her hand was shaking, and she looked really uncomfortable and because this guy was taking pictures of me. I wasn’t trying to bring (more) attention to myself.

Normally, I’m used to being ran into because I’m short and small, but on this day people were deliberately avoiding me. Suddenly, there was a comfort in almost being knocked out by someone’s bag or shoulder.

After a long day of work, you’d think that people would want to sit down…Apparently not on this day. I was so confused, did something happen? Was there an attack somewhere? Did the United States declare war on a Muslim country while I was in commute? Did Daesh take responsibility for yet another thing they had nothing to do with so they could incite fear? Being underground made it difficult for me to get connected to the internet to figure this out, so I sat there waiting. With each stop, I watched people avoid sitting next to me, and I wasn’t going to wait to get stabbed or hurt by the lady sitting next to me, so I got off the train and waited for the next one to go home.

With each stop, I watched people avoid sitting next to me, and I wasn’t going to wait to get stabbed or hurt by the lady sitting next to me, so I got off the train and waited for the next one to go home. tweet

As I was walking home, I continued to get strange looks from people.

Later that night, I spoke with friends of mine that also wear hijab and the general consensus was that shit was weird.

After the attacks in Paris, I was cautious, I made sure to not stand too close to the platform, I changed my picture on my Lyft account, and I would only walk down busy streets.

The mere existence of Muslims boils people’s blood.

I mean, we live in a world where Donald Trump has a chance to become the next President of the United States, and he’s expertly shaping his political platform around the hatred of Muslims, and really, anyone that isn’t a white man. Islamophobia is a billion dollar business. People make money off this fear-mongering rhetoric we’re exposed to by the media, and it’s ceaseless and shameless. Because of that, every time I walk out of my house, I am putting my life at risk.

Islamophobia is a billion dollar business. People make money off this fear-mongering rhetoric we’re exposed to by the media, and it’s ceaseless and shameless. Because of that, every time I walk out of my house, I am putting my life at risk.  Being visibly Muslim can get me killed. tweet

Being visibly Muslim can get me killed, and people are more concerned with why I get my eyebrows done, or they try to tell me that I didn’t make the decision to wear my hijab.

Muslim women who wear hijab don’t need to be policed; we need support.

Muslim women who wear hijab don’t need to be policed; we need support. tweet

I tried to justify the reasoning behind why some bigot didn’t want to sit next to me on the train because I was socialized to think this is normal living in a post-9/11 world.  But it’s not normal, or justifiable. I can’t believe I sat down and tried to figure out why someone would hate me, or avoid even being near me because they fear me that much.

Islamophobia is irrational.  It doesn’t come in waves after an attack or a Donald Trump rally––it’s constant, it’s everywhere, and visibly Muslim women deal with the worst of it.

 

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