I have a bone to pick with this industry.
Its blatant acceptance of Muslims in mainstream media at such an economically convenient time is not only predictable but kind of amusing. But that’s just one aspect of the perplexing time in which we live. On the one hand, we’re told that all our voices will be equally heard and our rights upheld. On the other hand, there’s still the large part of the population that labels us as terrorists and oppressors. People who, if they had their way, would strip away our basic rights. Some of them are lawmakers.
All of this creates conflicting thoughts and feelings within us, within me. While it fills my heart with pride and joy to see the hijab on the biggest fashion runways and fresh, fully-covered models in high-profile ads, it still feels…wrong. So we’ve become the latest trending topic. At some point in recent months, they’ve awakened to our influence in Western culture. Figures like Ibtihaj Muhammad and Mahershala Ali who proudly proclaim their beliefs while simply being great at what they do, have captured the attention of media outlets and brands alike. In turn, they’ve opened up their arms to us but at a (literal) cost.
Even in 2017, Muslims are still encouraged to conceal this part of their identity (oftimes for their own safety) in a cloying attempt to pacify the fears of the masses. But the masses are being deceived. They’re being told that those who don’t look like them are less than them. They’re being taught that those who think different than them, are against them.
How do we escape this cycle of mistrust? Understanding and sharing are the solutions; sharing ideas, sharing experiences, sharing our burdens and blessings. While my Muslim brothers and sisters and I are doing our part by using our influence to educate society on our way of life, we expect these corporations and institutions to do the same. We appreciate the acknowledgement of our lack of representation in the media, but it does not solve the issue of steadily rising hate crimes against innocent people. In the end, we’re just like you, human beings. And like all human beings, we want to be loved and accepted for who we are, not where we come from, what we wear, or how we benefit your bottom line.
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other, you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”― John Steinbeck