Posts tagged ‘occupy LA’

January 12, 2012

On Being Muslim, the Hijab, and Social Activism

Editor’s note: we are republishing this entry as it sheds light on something that happens all too often – tokenization.

Originally published at shergawia

I’ve spent some time at Occupy LA in the past few weeks. I was there as an observer and journalist, not as an Occupier but the movement has my respect — as do the people keeping it alive. I identify with their grievances and admire their spirit which is why I will include this disclaimer before I say what I need to say: not all Occupies are alike, nor all Occupiers alike, and this is not a criticism of the movement.

But some of my experiences at Occupy LA are indicative of prevailing attitudes towards Muslims from non-Muslim/non-Arab activists and are consistent with my experiences in other social activist communities. I have met some incredible people through this movement and some not-very-incredible people through this movement and I have this to say to all of them:

Stop treating me like your Token Muslim Friend.

I know you mean well. I know you’re trying to make me feel welcomed. I know you want to tell me how “great, really great” that a Muslim girl, like me, a hijabified brown girl wearing dirt-grazing skirts, would make it out to “our” movement/protest/charity event. I appreciate the thanks and the gratitude. I know you’re not trying to make me uncomfortable.

But I am. 

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