If I were a fan of identity politics, I would sit here and list for you every single marginalized identity that I hold and how that affects me personally. But I’m not. I think people these days have a tendency to beat identity politics to death. It’s made everything far too personal and individual, when I prefer to think of things on a macro level.
For instance, I’m not materially disadvantaged because I am a Muslim woman, I am materially disadvantaged because I live in a society plagued by Islamophobia and misogyny, which affects Muslim women in a specific way (trust me, there’s a distinction, however petty and miniscule it may sound). I’ve always understood this, but over the course of this internship, and especially as I’ve reflected on recent events going on across the country, and as I’ve begun to come out of my introverted shell and interact with people in politics, in my community, in my state, and even on my campaign, I’m starting to realize more than ever that this isn’t about me.
People tend to get along with me; I’m a generally nice person unless I’m given reason not to be, incredibly funny, and always willing to help where I can. People don’t typically have a problem with me specifically. They don’t take issue with specific Muslims, it’s us as a whole. People have no problem with me, but then will turn around and give me the equivalent of a verbal thinkpiece on the hijab and how it’s oppressive, all the while I’m sitting right in front of them donning a bright purple scarf on my head. People take no issue with my candidate’s policies (well, those on the left don’t, anyway), nor his friendly demeanor, but as he is a Muslim man, their minds are always on the possibility raised by the alt-right and their ilk that he’s dangerous. This is a systemic issue. This has nothing to do with us on an individual level. This isn’t all about your personal biases. It’s nothing that playing respectable and keeping my head down and hoping change will happen around me is going to solve. So I won’t.
You might not know it about me, but one of my favorite characters of all time, across all media, is Elphaba Thropp from Wicked. In the novel by Gregory Maguire, she boldly proclaims, “I don’t cause commotions, I am one.” As am I. And I’m owning it.