Friday, September 17, 2010

Stuff Invisible Muslimahs Like?

As salaam alaikum,

Before I make the rest of this post...I'd like to state a retraction. To all my brothers out there...Muslim brothers, that is, not race brothers. Black men, I've actually succeeded in not saying anything negative about you...well, nor have I really mentioned you here, come to think of it. Anyway. To the, I do not believe that you are all doomed to be my downfall. I am my own downfall sometimes. And for the example I used...paradoxically, as he made me doubt my beauty, he did at one time make me really comfortable in my identity, more than I had been.

So I think the lesson in that is that...with any such relationship, there's the potential for goodness, and there's the potential for badness. I guess it was all part of a necessary learning process to make me who I am today.

But who am I today, and what's the merit in that? That's a question that lies somewhere at the base of my chest...rides on my diaphragm with each breath. [Wow, I need to go back to reading medical literature...I feel myself fast forgetting the world of medicine for the world of...dun dun dun! Public health. I need my med student jeito back!] I got into all six of the colleges I applied to and decided to go to my "safety" school instead of my favorite school, Wash U...or Yale, which had the second best package to Michigan...before I got the scholarship. I would have been a very different person if I'd gone to Yale...not in terms of academics, but people.

I live wondering what my life would have been if I'd never met MQ...I may still be shunning hip hop and R&B. What if there weren't as many black women on campus who went natural? Would I have not stopped straightening my hair? I probably wouldn't have started hijab, may have not become as practicing as I wanted to because of the presence/paucity of Muslims on campus...lots of things, dude!

I like my trajectory. Sometimes I wonder if coming to Harvard was a mistake, but it's too late, because it's part of who I am now and I'm indivisible from it.

But it makes me a very weird person.

So my roommate, who is mixed, just found out that she's exactly like the list of stuff white people like. She's angry because it says white people, when she thinks it's just college culture. But it's like, I hate to break it to you, but I went to college and while I did a few of the things on the list (frisbee), I always acknowledged those things to be...of someone else's culture.

Acutally, ultimate was more my Asian friends in high school. Stuff Asian people like that I ended up participating in...ultimate frisbee, DDR (c. 2002-03), Bubble Tea, math competitions...

Before college, I was a tag-along to the dominant culture amongst the brainiacs, I guess you could call us, in my high school, and we were mostly Asian. The black people were two half-Nigerians and one half-black, half-Asian dude. Very telling. So most of my friends were Asian, particularly Chinese and Korean. Where are we now? We're all engineers, in medical school, in computers or business. Hahaha, I love how those of us in medical school still are in school. I didn't feel the length until I've entered School of Public Health. Man, time has sloowwweeddd doowwwnnn...

So, I digress a lot.

So I don't fit in with stuff white people like. I looked at the various stuff black people like...while I agree with the list and I can identify it with people I know, that's not really me, either. Stuff educated black people like...that was my other roommate. Oh yeah, and it was really funny how characteristic the complaints that black people levered against it were...characteristic, predictable. I know my black people! Not meaning to channel the Dave Chappelle skit with that one...Chappelle, who I wouldn't have known about if MQ hadn't told me about him freshman year...

Stuff Muslim people like? Erm...I'm kind of scared to look that up, before I find something phobic with like, a drawing of the Prophet (saw) or something...

My culture is 100% unique, with various elements. To fit me, you'd have to have a list, like..."Stuff that Black Muslim Nigerian American Hispanophilic People Like."

It's easier to say the Invisible Muslimah, no?

Yep, and that would be me!

I actually have a classmate who has a lot of the same interests as I do...taste in movies, music, travel, languages...he fits the Black Hispanophilic People profile, so that's my closest proxy.

And you're like, oooh, similar interests, huh? And I'm like, ehh, been there, done that. Bought the shirt, bought the hat. My conclusion...he's muito chato.

So what are things that I like? I guess that this journal serves as an example of everything I like. Ramadan...I miss the nur of that month already! Umm...injecting words for multiple languages into my speech when no one understands them but me. I mean, for some reason, as a Muslim when talking about religious things, I feel the need to write/say it in Arabic...then I add Spanish and Portuguese to the mix...

I like going to Brazil. I like the African Diaspora. I like going to Brazil specifically because of the African Diaspora. I like talking about Nigerian men (something I think I avoid here?). I like foo foo and soup. I like Indian food. I like Brazilian music. I like writing. I like writing about black people. I like documentaries. I like documentaries on race and religion. I like history. I like the history of race relations...

I like giving Nollywood a chance.

I like telenovelas. I like being a telenovela snob.

I like Glee!

I like the Daily Show. I like the Boondocks. I like MST3K.

I like talking about how things were better when I was a kid in the late 80s and the 90s.

I like those countdown shows on VH1.

I like talking about marriage ad nauseum.

I like hating reality shows.

The like procrastinating!

The list goes on of things I like. Nothing quite captures my culture. I guess on the stuff white people like list, I fit with studying abroad, obscure films on Netflix and...having gay friends. On the stuff educated black people like, I'm the whole, natural hair, grown and sexy thing. All of the stuff black people like lists are of them was kind of black nationalist/militant! It took too long to read, and I was all like, calm down!

I like talking about my family's black nationalist history while not ever having been part of it.

So yeah, I'm glad to prove that, once again, I am not boxable.

I do, however, think I need to calm down...on several levels. I'll explain later.

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