"Land of the free & home of the brave"
by Nasteho Abbas
For as long as I can remember, I was taught that America was indeed the land of the free. My parents left a war torn country in hopes of starting a new life in America, the land of the free. America is a land where you are free to practice whatever religion you want, a land where everyone has the same rights, a land that is fair to everyone.
Being a black Muslim woman in a post 9/11 America, I feel like the American dream I was sold is simply a fantasy. Prior to coming to America I did not know what racism was, I never experienced it. It wasn’t until I was living in a rural town in the Midwest that I learned that someone could not like me due to the color of my skin. Racism is a huge issue that seems to be getting worse in the United States. People often think that since Barack Obama was president, racism is no longer an issue. But, that is false. Black men and women are still getting killed for no reason or are being abused by the criminal justice system. After 9/11 a lot of people faced discrimination, and still do--a prime example being the Muslim ban. The last group that I fit in that faces discrimination is women, we still do not earn the same as men, and the government often wants to have a say about what women do with their bodies. As a hijab wearing, black-skinned woman, I get three strikes due to my mere existence.
Interestingly enough it is these three things that mark me as an outsider, that I see as some of my most important characteristics. Being a hijabi allows me to express my Muslim identity as well as my individual style with my hijab. Being black makes me proud of my melanin and my African roots. I am proud of my heritage and culture, and I am proud of those who came before me and fought for the freedoms that I enjoy today as a black woman in America.
Lastly, being a woman is a magical thing. Having recently given birth to my daughter, I have found myself amazed by the strength and resilience of my own body. Today in 2017, when the country is more divided than I have ever experienced, I am very proud of the things that make me different. These three facets of my identity make me the strong black Muslim woman that I am. They also make me want to instill that same pride in my daughter.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest contributor and do not necessarily express the views of Amara Collection LLC.