I’ve experienced my share of prejudice based absolutely on what I wear on my head. Gendered Islamophobia guarantees that it doesn’t matter what you look like, doesn’t focus on body size or ability, doesn’t question your sexuality, desire or ability to have children, social or economic mobility, citizenship (though it often makes it easy to slip into racism) or political affiliation — it is racism and prejudice based on identifying women as members of Islam based on their style of religious dress.
But while people have accosted me, spat on me, made lewd remarks, racist remarks, told me to go back home, or used my hijab as an excuse to unload their frustrations about the war of terror or “those crazy people in country X shouting God is great when X horrible thing happens” (yes, even in Canada) — it has never thankfully happened while I was with Eryn.
In fact, I have received mostly kindness, only once having someone ask if she was a “mixed” child and of course, the occasional negativity many parents experience irrespective of religious affiliation when out in public with their children: how dare you bring that annoying child into my child-free public space. Make it stop crying/talking/pooping/screaming/laughing/touching me right NOW or face the wrath of my disapproving stare.
There is of course a huge difference between anti-child prejudice and anti-Muslim prejudice. I just find it interesting that over the past two weeks I’ve only experienced one or the other based on whether or not Eryn is with me.
It’s not every day that I experience Islamophobia just like it’s not every day that people are annoyed with Eryn’s existence. But Monday was incredibly trying and I have to take this opportunity to say “thank you” to the many people who made our day bearable, enjoyable, and absolutely fantastic.
So thank you to:
- the woman at the Museum who gave me a kind smile with Eryn had a meltdown because her french fries wouldn’t line up the way she wanted them to
- everyone who held doors open for us
- the gentleman who actually held my umbrella over our heads as I struggled to get Eryn into the sling
- the commuter who made space for us on the train when it was 25 minutes delayed and we were squished like sardines
- the woman who, amongst “tsks” from others when Eryn started crawling on the floor, made the loud comment, “You would think someone would give that poor child a seat. She’s too little to be standing!”
And a gracious thank you to:
- the woman who gave us her seat
- the woman who moved her legs so Eryn could avoid kicking other passengers
- the woman who probably sensing how stressed and harried I was, entertained Eryn for a full 30 minutes by teaching her how to give a “thumbs-up” and the “peace sign.”
Your kindness and understanding really made my day and showed me that for every person who “tsks” at my child, there are more who will go out of their way to accommodate us.
(I’m sure the same can be said for Islamophobia… now, just give me that one experience of someone standing up and saying “NO!” when they overhear ridiculousness spouted at a Muslim. You’ll make my millennium.)