Since 2013, February 1st has been known as World Hijab Day. It was created by Nazma Khan as a way to invite all women to wear a hijab and learn about the reasons why so many Muslim women choose to wear it.

This year, World Hijab Day is especially important due to the recent political injustices and adjustments that have been made. Thankfully, I attend a school where all female teachers and students were encouraged to participate and spread awareness. My best friend, being a Muslim, lent me a hijab and helped me fasten it on. Throughout the day, girls were complimenting each other left and right, keeping the atmosphere full of positivity.

The point was to spread awareness that wearing the hijab is not about oppression, it’s about living a life of modesty.

It wasn’t until after school that the trouble began. My best friend and I, both wearing the hijab, decided to stop by Starbucks on our way home. My friend is half Chinese and half Pakistani, while I am half Chinese and half American. Obviously, we don’t look white.

Our Starbucks barista was an older white man with glasses and a scraggly beard. When I went to order, he made me and my friend repeat ourselves several times and didn’t bother asking names for the order. When I went to pay with a credit card, he took it from my hand and showed me how to work the swipe. I didn’t know how to tell him that I didn’t need help. 

In addition, a couple of our friends were in line behind us, one of them being a white male. When he ordered, he was asked his name and given a gift. The same barista gave him an antique American large cent coin that is worth at least $18 to $20 today. He told him it was “very rare” and he should “take good care of it.” My best friend and I were appalled. Later, as we were exiting the Starbucks, two people averted their eyes when we smiled at them. I was in shock. Only one day wearing the hijab and I was already treated differently.

The fact is, regardless of the what you call it, racism, prejudice or discrimination, this sort of attitude will continue to exist until we talk about it. I cannot imagine the extent of prejudice my Muslim friends face on a daily basis. If we truly want America to be this great “melting pot”, then we need to band together against all forms of discrimination. It is not the time to sit back and be a spectator. Stand up, spread awareness and make a difference.

Note: This is the experience of one of our writers. While participating in this event is controversial, some choose to partake and gain knowledge. To learn about the struggles Muslims face from a Muslim perspective, check out these articles: This Is Life Through the Lens of a Muslim GirlWhat a Muslim Fears in America or As a Muslim, I Still Have Hope For The Future

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