I went to the mall, and a little girl called me a terrorist.
My name is Ela. I am seventeen years old. I am not Muslim, but my friend told me about her friend being discriminated against for wearing a hijab. So I decided to see the discrimination firsthand to get a better understanding of what Muslim women go through.
My friend and I pinned scarves around our heads, and then we went to the mall. Normally, vendors try to get us to buy things and ask us to sample a snack. Clerks usually ask us if we need help, tell us about sales, and smile at us. Not today. People, including vendors, clerks, and other shoppers, wouldn’t look at us. They didn’t talk to us. They acted like we didn’t exist. They didn’t want to be caught staring at us, so they didn’t look at all.
And then, in one store, a girl (who looked about four years old) asked her mom if my friend and I were terrorists. She wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. I don’t even think she could have grasped the idea of prejudice. However, her mother’s response is one I can never forgive or forget. The mother hushed her child, glared at me, and then took her daughter by the hand and led her out of the store.
All that because I put a scarf on my head. Just like that, a mother taught her little girl that being Muslim was evil. It didn’t matter that I was a nice person. All that mattered was that I looked different. That little girl may grow up and teach her children the same thing.
This experiment gave me a huge wakeup call. It lasted for only a few hours, so I can’t even begin to imagine how much prejudice Muslim girls go through every day. It reminded me of something that many people know but rarely remember: the women in hijabs are people, just like all those women out there who aren’t Muslim.
People of Tumblr, please help me spread this message. Treat Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Taoists, etc., exactly the way you want to be treated, regardless of what they’re wearing or not wearing, no exceptions. Reblog this. Tell your friends. I don’t know that the world will ever totally wipe out prejudice, but we can try, one blog at a time.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out one thing. This is an example of a male-targeted, vaguely ‘sexist’ commercial campaign that is genuinely funny, and clever enough for women to “get the joke”. These commercials, despite claiming Old Spice was a product for “men” and not ladies, were met with mutual appreciation from men and women, because it is:
A: Not stupid or flat in its humor or message
B: Not degrading to women
C: Genuinely funny
On top of that, these commercials featured a man that was trying to, above all else, make women happy. He wasn’t trying to be a man because “ew being girly is dumb lol,” he was trying to be a man because “oh ladies I would love to impress you.” And even though both of those messages are somewhat traditional ways of viewing and reinforcing gender standards and expectations, that fine line between them makes a world of difference. Many of these pro-men campaigns are too insulting, or too small-minded, or simply not clever enough to make us “get the joke”. But this campaign has humor that appeals to both men and women at the same time, by neither degrading nor bashing either of them. Men can want to be like this man, and woman get to appreciate a man that is like this man. But at the same time, this campaign is too light-hearted and whimsical to hurt anyone’s feelings, so you can easily take it for the hilarious joke it is.
This campaign is not only funny, it’s clever, highly creative, intentionally over the top, and entertaining. Everything that Dr. Pepper’s agonizing “Why don’t women get the joke about our manly soda?” campaign is not.