In honor of California recognizing August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month, I thought this was a good a time as any to share some thoughts and realizations I have had lately. To be honest I debated whether or not to share anything here since I like to keep things light and fun at Lovezahra.com, but I decided since this is my personal blog, I am just going to go ahead and get personal with you.
I’ve been so stressed by all of the hatred and fear mongering that has pretty much defined this Presidential election, in addition to that, the already rampant gun violence in our country, terrorist attacks around the world, and the anti-Muslim sentiment in America that has been brewing for so many years. It has gotten so bad for me lately, I find myself working less, and becoming anti-social to avoid the inevitable conversations that I know will upset me, I end up staying home more and interacting with people less. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not who I am.
It is funny, growing up in the 90’s it seemed like as Muslims, especially South Asian Muslims, we were pretty much invisible in society, and definitely so in the media. Many people didn’t seem to know where Pakistan even was, and we literally had to check “other” in terms of race when filling out forms. (I know Asian/Pacific Islander was technically correct but you know what I’m trying to say here.) Then all of the sudden 9/11 happens and we go from non-existent entity to number one enemy. For a long time I would get angry every time I’d hear another story about a hate crime against a Muslim person, or when I learned someone innocent was detained without reason, or any time I accidentally watched Fox (or as I like to say ‘faux’) News, or saw a clip of Donald Trump saying, well anything at all. I couldn’t understand why the acts of a few were being blamed on a group consisting of over a billion people around the world, and why that false narrative was being so easily accepted by my society.
But the other day while watching a story on my new favorite channel, Viceland, I was inspired to finally change my outlook. The episode was called Gaycation: Brazil, and hosts Ellen Page and Ian Daniel take a look at Queer life in Brazil. There is an interesting clash of cultures there, where on the one hand they celebrate sexual liberation, especially during Carnivale, but they also have the highest murder rate of the LGBTQ population in the world. What really inspired me was what Carol Marra, Brazil’s first transgender model, said about how she copes with the intolerance towards her and other LGBTQ people, she answered: “Even though life doesn’t smile at me, I smile at it every day.” There was something about her energy, her attitude, that gave me hope that things could and will get better. Even if they didn’t, I still wanted to be like her.
So instead of getting upset or internalizing the negativity that I see around me, I am going to take a cue from Marra and smile right back in its face. If I take everything that life gives me as a blessing, the experiences I’ve faced will allow me to empathize with others who are struggling too, and I believe the world could benefit from a little empathy and compassion right now.
Thanks for visiting and letting me spill my heart out today.
With love and light, -Z
Also, here’s a new outfit 🙂
Pants: Thanks to J.Jill | Tank: Topshop (old) Similar Style | Sandals: Born | Jacket: Thanks to True Religion (old) Similar Style | Sunnies: Miu Miu via Ditto – (use code LOVEZAHRA for a free trial month!)