In this article, I would like to exemplify that the plight that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully battled did not just focus on the complexion of one’s skin. It was not just about white versus brown and white versus black. The plight then and even now – yes, we have thankfully become better as a nation, but we have still not reached our potential regarding this matter – has to do with being different in general.
If you were able to see the complexion of my skin, you would be able to testify that I have white skin. At most, you could declare that my complexion is a ruddy white.
Now, as a Muslim, there is a dress code that I must adhere to if I wish to be a practicing Muslim. A mature practicing Muslim woman wears a headscarf on her head for a number of reasons which I will not delve into in this article. I adorn my head with a headscarf every day before I leave my home. If I did not wear a piece of cloth on my head, one would not know for certain my ethnicity and what I believe in. Many would assume that I was a happy-go-lucky Christian white American.
But in fact, I am a happy-go-lucky white Arab-American, and I believe in Islam.
Because I choose to wear a piece of cloth on my head, I have been discriminated against and stereotyped, ultimately because of a piece of cloth. One concept that I have been deemed is two-fold. Some people believe and at times proclaim that we are oppressed because we decide to follow the Islamic guidelines on attire. Individuals who believe this notion at one point intended to “free the Muslim women of this oppression.”
My refutation to this ignorant proclamation is “Free us from what?” I am very happy being me. I love who I am and what I believe in. Why would you attempt to extract from my happiness? This way of life is suitable for me.
Ladies and gentlemen, in general, discrimination, animosity and abuse do not just happen because the complexion of one’s skin does not match another’s. There are many reasons for this behavior.
Being diverse to any degree can breed this behavior and we should be conscious of this.
I would like to challenge each of you, and I give you my word that I challenge myself with the same.
I challenge you to experience the beauty of diversity, to see that human beings were created differently so that we may get to know one another and enrich each other’s lives. In this challenge, let us realize that differences among people are blessings from God.
A quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that correlates with my proposal and his words may assist us in moving forward in this challenge. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
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