Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Projecting one's own fears

December 9th, 2009
Warning: INSANELY LONG POST (well not really)
If you feel uncomfortable regarding posts on race, than please refrain from commenting. This post has nothing to do with Islam.

So, hopefully, many of you know that I'm in mostly in high level classes in my high school, right?

And do any of you remember the anxiety I felt when I was still taking Journalism during the beginning of this school year?

Well, in my English and U.S history classes (both Advanced Placement so.. work -ugh-), I am...

no, I'm NOT the only minority; if you look at it, it seems that the majority is actually the minority in these classes.

Instead, I'm the minority of the minorities.

Funny right?

1st period history, the bane of my existence, is where I'm the only representation of my race and religion. [Black, Muslim; Sure, I'm East African, but to everyone else I'm black( or African American) , so I will refer to myself as so]

However in 4th period English, there are two other muslims; one who's Indian and male (so you'd never know) and another who's Asian and female (she wears hijab too, so you'd assume we'd be best buds.)
Before I continue, I'd like to start with an Oprah quote (don't hate)

"Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism"

I do my best. I do better than my best.

It's like this unconscious need to somehow 'prove' myself . That I am not some stereotype

(this need to dispel stereotypes is very annoying and stressful in my everyday life. I always have to 'second-guess' myself and see who I hang out with)

What I thought and still think to be a moment of subtle racism or at the very least (low expectations):
So, English is my strong point. I love it. I love writing, I can memorize vocabulary easily; so it's no surprise I get good grades on the tests. But every time we have a test, she always walks down my row so much more often than the other rows. After asking my brother -who had her- about it, he waved it away and said that she always goes down one row more often than others. So I brushed it aside. We switched seats monthly and when we took a quiz, it happened, AGAIN. I have an A average in this class, and if she presumes that I'm cheating; well that's hurtful and damaging to all of my efforts as a student in that class.

One can easily -knowing my brother's not so well score in that class- dismiss such paranoia and say that maybe I'm just like my brother.

Umm, that's still a bad; maybe even worse.
Assuming that a) I'm not good in English just because a sibling wasn't
b) That I'd resort to cheating so as not to become A
c) That with repeated high test scores, one would still fall to such low levels to sniff out a 'cheat'

And worse yet, there ARE students who cheat in that class. Many who cheat in ALL classes thanks to SIBLING. But how would the teacher know? She never goes down any other row after all.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Projecting my fears of racism onto others; that maybe, I somehow distort the reality, claiming that I'm a victim.

I don't openly digress such issues of race with people; certainly not with people who I just know will not fully understand me.

And I don't 'prefer' the company of my own race; nor do I hang out exclusively with hijabis or muslims or somalis.

But whenever I raise a hand in class or maybe make some folly; I grow self-conscious (or a more positive 'self-aware') of the results of my actions, and people's changing viewpoints of me.

Now honestly, I don't give a sh-- what anyone thinks of me; but I need to find solace on whether it's just that I'm perceiving racism- or in actuality, there is some sort of preference or subtle racism going on.

Don't think I'm discussing racism from only white people; I'm a minority of minorities, I'm talking about I feel with no one to to at the very least, vent to- with the knowledge that they would completely comprehend my feeling seeing as how they are 'the same as me.'

At least in those two classes. The reason why I don't talk much with the other muslims in the English class is:
1) You'd never know the guy was muslim, people just think he's 'indian' (shows how intelligent they are), and we have nothing in common.

2) She is quiet. And I mean, EXTREMELY QUIET. I've known her since the 7th grade and I've made many attempts to have a decent conversation. We walk to the MSA meetings and sometimes have a talk or two, but really, I'm not keen on being the only one talking in a conversation. Plus, sometimes I forget she's even in the same class due to the silence [somehow I feel like a bad hijabi whenever I go up and act out a play we're reading] We've also been in the same class for two years. Shame.

I hang out with mostly Asians, I'm not ashamed of it.
But there are some bad apples who are extremely racist.
They hate mexicans (majority at our school, but still minorities in the advanced classes), completely closed off to other cultures and are insensitive to my beliefs and who I am.

I tell those people off all the time and refuse to acknowledge their presence when I'm with my own group of friends (a mix of Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, e.t.c)

So again, this is partially me talking outloud and trying to figure out if I'm projecting my own fears onto certain people in my advanced classes and french class; or maybe I'll just be black-balled as the 'over-emotional' POC. Maybe I didn't reach a conclusion in this post, or a viable solution to my 'problem' which will only be regarded as such until a person of majority sees it as important; but it's still justified and it's still important to me.

This post has turned into a rant/digression, so excuse the lack of structure. And this post has nothing to do with Islam; I made a post partially concerning that

Leave me and my rant be.

Thank you for reading this insanely long post (you'll probably feel confirmed that this was an anti-white post but it wasn't and it has nothing to do with that; but the blog linked above just makes me feel as if there are people out there who understand; even if no one's experience is quite the same.)


Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

your blog is really beautiful to look at and I'm already enjoying reading your posts.

firstly, sorry to hear about your feelings of frustration in high school. I wish I could say something comforting to you. but I know what you mean. I used to wear hijab for 2 years. Before wearing hijab, people always talked down to me like I was dumb (because I'm Deaf) and this made me extremely angry, bitter and resentful toward people in high school. Then when I put on the hijab, OH BOY, it got worse. People acted even worse to me, treating me like i was a small child who needed to be fed milk from a spoon or something.

It didn't help how other Muslims (and Indians) in school treated me, either. So I know how you feel in regard to the other 2 Muslims in your class. Ugh.

also, it sucks balls knowing that some of your own friends are racist toward certain groups. That shit makes me soooo ANGRY!!! I always defend Jews, Mexicans, gays, etc to my friends, whether they're white, desi, Muslim, atheist, or whatever. I've been called a Jew lover, a closet dyke (for defending gay people), and a Hindu lover.

but it's good knowing that you'll always criticize your friends and speak out against their racist remarks. Hopefully they'll realize how wrong their racist views are and they'll feel stupid about it.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

also, I don't blame you for feeling concerned about that teacher walking in your row in case she thinks YOU are cheating.

a lot of people are always shocked that Hijabis and Black women (let alone a Black Hijabi like YOU!) can be intelligent and have good grades. But you will prove everyone wrong. I say good for you.

NoortheNinjabi said...

That's rough. Is it possible to bring up your concerns to the teacher? Or someone above the teacher, in a non-threatening way?

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist, mashaAllah, inshaAllah you get through ok. Are you an ASL user or were you raised as an oralist?

.::Tuttie::. said...

for some reason i didn't realized you were still in high school mashaAllah! when you are ready to apply to college LET ME KNOW! so I can help you navigate the FAFSA and the lies told to us when filling it out.

about your feelings i think they are valid and as a VISIBLE muslim i too feel very self conscious when I screw up. If you feel oppress make du'a as Allah swt accepts the du'as fo the oppressd.

Dubai Bride said...

So sorry to hear that ur feeling like this :(

I get sick of being stereotyped all the bloody time. Though admittedly, sometimes it works in my favour. Try to think of it postively..and if ur still pissed off, next time she walks down ur aisle, ask her if she has a problem.

FeministMuslima said...

Salam, I am Black and Muslim also. I was inside of AP USA History last year. My teacher didn't know I was a convert until I told him. I believe he thought I was in the Nation of way!! So many people ask if I am inside of the Nation of Islam because I am Black. Yes, there is alot of racism. Its my senior year now and things are okay for me. People know who I am. People know I am socialable and outgoing. I'm not shy at all. Some people don't know that I am a convert, but just leaves room for "mystery". I don't really see the stares or hear the comments anymore about my religion or what I wear. I still get some from my family. The muslims at my school really aren't into Islam "openly" as I am. We talk sometimes though. Insha'Allah, I will be going to college with more muslims though.

ModestJustice said...

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist: (Are you sure the cupcakes aren't making you a wee bit hungry? :D) And thank you for being able to empathize; but I'm no saint, I always replay certain events that I could've handled better by making a comment directly pointing out someone's prejudice. Eh, it's good to be able to vent my feelings.
And about my teacher, UGH; low expectations are something I must expect for the rest of my life so it seems. (By the way, for the two years you wore hijab, what were the reasons you decided to take it off? -if it's too personal I understand :])
Thank you so much for visiting my blog! ^_^

NoortheNinjabi: The time and energy, and inevitable embarassment (for myself moreso than the teacher) is not worth the risk. I'm just going to have to be content with proving my teacher wrong, or being apathetic towards the situation. Probably being pro-active is the better option :]

Tuttie: Yeah, still in high school heh. I shall DEFINITELY let you know! Darn FAFSA, with their multiple pages and inquisitive questions (my older brother had to go through that lol) Insha'Allah, I'll take you up on that Dua'a :]

Dubai Bride: How does it work in your favor? :] And I do try and think positively, now I just ignore it. I mean ,really, if she still thinks I'm cheating by now, all I have is apathy for her.

Feminist Muslima: NOI! Worse than having your own friends confuse Eid with Kwanzaa (yes, they have..) And I don't even celebrate that! The stares and comments are always going to be there, but yeah -like you- I tend to block them out or fail to notice it. Is there an MSA at your school? Hehe I was actually looking at college's MSAs to see if which school had the 'coolest' looking one lol

Maryam said...

Well, I can definately tell English is one of your strong areas, you are a very good writer!

It was somewhat ironic, because as I was reading this post, I realized that these were sme of the same thoughts that went on in my head.

"It's like this unconscious need to somehow 'prove' myself . That I am not some stereotype

(this need to dispel stereotypes is very annoying and stressful in my everyday life. I always have to 'second-guess' myself and see who I hang out with)"

Man, I used to think like this before.

InshaAllah, everything will work out for the best. Think of this as your personal jihad, and it will definately make you a stronger person.

My comment is turning longer than your post! :P

♫T♪ said...

this really isnt that long of a post :P have you SEEN some of the stuff i write?!

i want to give a nice long answer to help you solve all your problems, but im really not like that. nor can i say i completely empathise, because yeah sure i'm the only brown girl at punk gigs. i used to be the only hijaabi until i took my hijaab off (i didnt take it off for racist reasons, but just because i didnt want to anymore. anyway digressing!)

you'll notice if people treat you a bit differently. and the first thing you'll assume it's due to is the one difference that is strikingly obvious - you're not the same colour as them and they cant see your hair.
this may or not be the reason they're treating you different. they might not be treating you differently at all but you've just been taught that if someone who's not your colour makes you feel a bit bad, its racism.

i get strange looks all the time because even though i'm not that darkskinned, im clearly not white.
the asians think im trying to be white (with all the music and punk etc) and the white people prolly think im strange but im not sure why.
i have a completely mixed group of friends.
and ive got a massive crush on a white boy. and im worried he doesnt like me back because im asian - but unless you KNOW someone's racist, its best not to think so. if someone treats you differently because of the colour of your skin or how you look, that's their problem. you're concern is to not let their treatment of you stopping you from getting what you want to achieve.

none of what ive said probably makes sense because im not exactly great with punctuation, grammar, logical-order-of-thought. but i hope some of it helps

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