Words, as harsh as they can be, can also heal any open wound if we allow them to. “you are beautiful regardless of what they say” she whispers in my year near the balcony at the Irish pub. She hugs me tight and tells me to stay strong. I am her inspiration, kind of like a love song. See, I know I can aspire to inspire but to actually hear someone say that I inspire them to be better makes all the difference in my life. They all know what im facing and look at me with pity. I’m a borderline alcoholic with too much alcohol in her system. Im mixing toxins and engaging in unprotected sex and all for what? To feel alive? To feel good? To feel beautiful? These men feed of my insecurities and I feed off their fake affection. We feed each other’s egos’ with sex and cigarettes. I don’t know how to act if I don’t feel wanted. I only know how to exist when I am wanted. Girls like me are hardly ever wanted, you know. I’m used up and sad and drunk and perpetually waiting by the phone for someone to pick up and tell me that I did good. but I didn’t do good. I failed at this, and failed at that and feel victim to this and fell victim to that. And all for what, to feel alive, free and liberated? I feel humiliated and ashamed. That jerk Turkish guy had the nerve to look me straight in the eye and push me away like I was some piece of garbage he had already used. Or that other guy who found it funny to insult my weight because as he put it “if your going to act like a man, you better take it like a man” so there wasn’t any room for me to feel sensitive. All I wanted and all I still want is for someone to help me out and stand and sleep by my side regardless. But I guess I cant have that until I learn to love and respect myself. To feel comfortable in my own skin. I need to go on a journey of self-discovery. And that journey starts tonight.
Dear Mr. White Man with the brown hair, brown eyes, and white skin staring me
down as I walk by the cereal aisle. What’s making you stop and stare?
Is it this “thing”, as you guys say, I have around my head?
Is it the fact that I look different?
Is it the fact that I remind you of a people, a people who to you represent an evil,
who to you have caused you some type of personal pain?
Tell me Mr. White Man, what is so offensive about my head scarf?
Do you see me judging you for what is around your neck or the lack of anything
around your neck?
Tell me Mr. White Man, why is it okay for you to hate me but not okay for me to
defend myself against your harsh words? Why is that when you speak it is “freedom
of speech” but when I speak it is “hate speech”?
Tell me Mr. White Man, have I offended you by expressing myself through my
religious practices? Why do you look at me with that look of disgust as if I was a
dirty person for being a Muslim woman?
Tell me Mr. White Man, do you know what I go through everyday? Do you know the
struggles I face as a Palestinian Muslim female in this “modern” western society? No.
I didn’t think so.
Dear Frat Boy who tried to pull off my headscarf at a bar while I was dancing with
friends, why did you feel you had a right to touch me?
Is it because of this “thing” you say I have on my head?
Is it the fact that I don’t look like your typical girl at a bar?
Is it the fact that I’m strong enough to do what I please so that you feel like less of a
man and try to “put me in my place”?
Tell me Frat Boy, what is offensive to you about my headscarf?
Do you see me judging you based on your Polo button down shirt and J.Crew shorts?
Tell me Frat Boy, have I offended you by being a liberal feminist Muslim woman?
Did I hurt your ego by not being at home “praying” like you said I should?
Tell me Frat boy, why is it that from all the frat bros you where with, it had to be you
who had to pull it off? I always thought men of color understood the hardships that
resulted from white supremacy.
Tell me Frat Boy, what if someone pulled your mother’s hair or shirt off while she
was at a bar? How would that make her feel?
Tell me Frat Boy, do you know the struggles I face every time I go out? Do you know
how it feels to be the only fully dressed, covered up, stared down girl in a social
setting after 10pm? No. I didn’t think so.