To The Boy Who Yanked Off My Hijab

To The Boy Who Yanked Off My Hijab

I don't mean to sound bitter, but to be honest, I am.
77
views

It's been eight years. And since then, I've learned that ignorance and discrimination are two sides of the same coin.

It happened in sixth grade after gym class. As we were walking back to the locker rooms, I heard you and your friend snickering behind me. Then, I felt a whoosh of empty air behind my head as you pulled my headscarf off. A week later, in front of your mom, two gym teachers, the vice principal and the school counselor you said it was because you "just wanted to see what was underneath."

My hair was underneath. You saw my hair — black, curly and pinned up in a bun. Then you saw my face, turned around, confusion morphing into shock and then a livid expression. I reached out to grab you by the collar, and looking back, it's almost comical how two guys nearing 5'7" stumbled back from a girl who stood barely five feet tall and wore bright pink scarves to school. In that moment though, you looked scared, and the only thing running through my head was, how dare you?

I already knew what to do. I had already been cautioned: if anyone ever tries to hurt you, tell the teacher. So I mustered up my courage and told, except that the gym teacher didn't think it was a big deal and said, "Tell me if it happens again, and I'll talk to him about it."

I thought, well, maybe it wasn't a big deal, but I still felt oddly betrayed, because all I wanted was an apology — an admission that he had done something wrong which hurt my feelings. This was just the first of many times that adults in school would turn their back on me. I would learn later on to never trust counselors or teachers, to always approach the person in the highest position of power or else no one would care what happened to me, whether it was a small form of discrimination or life-threatening bullies. But in this case, I thought my teacher would knew best, so I didn't mention it to her again.

I let the story slip in Spanish class the next day because it was still on my mind. My Spanish teacher's reaction was instantaneous, "That's horrible! Did you tell the teacher?" When I shared my gym teacher's response, my Spanish teacher exclaimed, "Oh no, that's not right." I felt relieved. Here was an adult who understood how I felt. She could tell me what to do!

Except that she didn't either. She just repeated, "That's not right. I hope that doesn't happen to you again, sweetheart," and began class.

Clearly no one thought this was a big deal, so I was unprepared for the severity of my family's response: "He did what?! Did you tell the teacher?"

A flurry of visits to the vice principal's office and several days later trying to find you (because you had taken a few days off, it turns out), fast forward to the beginning of next week where we stood outside the gym surrounded by a quintet of adults. You stood next to your mom, an esteemed Spanish teacher at the school and a sweet lady who knew how to apologize for something she did not do or appear to understand at all. But I didn't want to hear your mom apologize. I wanted to hear it from you. We all stared, the vice principal gesturing vaguely in your direction as the silence grew.

"I'm sorry," you mumbled, eyes glued to the floor.

You then handed me a crumpled up note and turned away.

Maybe if it had just been you and me standing there, if the vice principal hadn't clapped his hands together to "call it a day," if the counselor hadn't ushered me to the side right after to assure me that I could always "confide" in her (as if I already hadn't before I confided in my parents) and if the gym teachers hadn't strolled right back into the gym with you trailing behind, I would have said: "That's not a proper apology. Look up. Look at me. Look me in the eye. Tell me, what exactly are you sorry about?"

But I didn't, because we were only 12 years old. I didn't know to stand up for myself. I didn't know adults can be just as clueless when it comes to situations like these — that whether it's a quintet of school officials or all 430 white members of Congress, ignorance of other cultures and religions comes in many forms.

That was the first day I was forced to understand, no matter how well-meaning someone may be, ignorance cuts just as deep as the knife of discrimination. Whereas discrimination is a slap to the face, publicly humiliating and openly unfair, ignorance is a stab in the back, because it is naivety that stems from an uncaring heart and an empty mind. Ignorance is as easy as shrugging and saying, "Well, that's too bad. I'm sorry that happened to you," and turning away without a second thought. Ignorance is comfortable and easy. It's sitting on your couch Sunday nights, laughing at late night shows gone politically rouge or tweeting about Trump's latest fiasco and then going to bed without a single proactive thought in your brain — ready to wake up and go to work the next morning to chat about it with your coworkers over a cup of coffee.

Ignorance is as seemingly innocent as a 12-year-old kid scribbling onto crumpled notebook paper, "I'm sorry I took off your hat thing," as if it constitutes as an appropriate apology, as if that's what his mom meant when she said he spent all weekend "researching your 'culture.'"

I don't mean to sound bitter, but to be honest, I am.

I'm bitter because I have to to be OK with your half-hearted apology.

I have to be OK with the fact that you nor any of the adults standing there with us had thought to ask me what it felt like to have my hijab yanked off as if it meant nothing, as if it were nothing more than a decorative piece of cloth that just happened to be on my head.

I have to be OK with it, because we are still living in a world where ignorance is acceptable when it's nothing more than a lazy version of discrimination. The inability to express a genuine interest, no matter how perfunctory, in the identity of another is a lack of empathy — the very essence of humanity.

I have to come to terms with this, and I also have to forgive you. We were only 12, and all you and I knew was to follow the example of the adults around us. But now we're adults. So even if you don't remember, even if you don't really care, please understand just one thing: just as there's no justification for discrimination, there is no excuse for ignorance.

Cover Image Credit: Hartis Mustaya Pratama / Unsplash

Popular Right Now

Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

35416
views

Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

My Liberal Women's Studies Class Made Me Hate Modern-Day Feminism

I disagreed with it before, but now I can barely support it.

121
views

The first time I got to take women and gender studies was my senior year of high school. My teacher was incredible, and I feel that once everyone (yes including me) could get past our political differences, we all learned so much from each other. We didn't agree with each other the majority of the time, but we all took the time to understand why we felt the way that we do.

In college, I was isolated by my own professor and I was taught her opinion and was expected to take it as a fact. It was anti-Republican and politically charged. Anyone who has taken a women's studies course in college I've spoken to agrees, the course is only so much fact and history, it's most discussion and opinion.

I dropped that class, it was not what I knew it could be. I recently enrolled in the same class online. Relearning the foundation of what the feminist movement is, and what it stood for only renewed my disagreement with modern feminism.

For those of you unfamiliar with feminism, it is categorized into three waves. To keep it short and sweet, first wave feminism consists of the women who worked to gain the right to vote and other legal aspects.

Second wave feminism took place in the 1960's and 70's and to my knowledge, seemed to focus on a lot of workplace rights, education rights and such.

Third wave feminism started in the 1990s and is considered modern-day feminism.

Feminism is the desire to have equality among the sexes.

My grandmother once said that she didn't know what these women were so upset about. They don't know and have never seen real and true oppression. She has a point. Women in America have it good compared to women even 50 years ago and certainly have it better than women in most other countries. We get to drive, have credit cards, our own bank accounts, have a job, own a company, run for office, and live on our own. Women are allowed to be pro-choice or be pro-life, carry a gun or not carry a gun. This is all because of the women who came before us and helped us get here.

So many modern feminists believe that men are the reason they face oppression and that men cannot represent them. That isn't equality. That is shutting down an entire group of people, saying they cannot adequately do their job simply because they are a man. Which is exactly what feminists are supposed to be against when that is applied to women. Also, if they don't like their elected representatives, go out and exercise your right to vote, work on campaigns you do agree with, or even try to speak with your elected officials.

Most people also associate modern feminism with being a liberal. There is an obvious exclusion of conservative women from the feminist movement.

If you are pro-life you can't be a feminist.

If you voted for Donald Trump you can't be a feminist.

If you are a conservative with conservative values you can't be a feminist.

This is not what the feminist movement is supposed to be about.

Let us go straight to a hot topic as an example: abortion. The Supreme Court has the final say, and they set precedent. In other words, any law that would change any outcome of Roe V. Wade is unconstitutional unless the Supreme Court itself takes on a case and makes the changes itself. So no, Donald Trump cannot take away your right to an abortion. That is just a politically charged line to get people fired up.

Also, conservative values include minimal government, therefore many conservatives feel that it's not the government's place to tell you what to do with your body. Being personally pro-life doesn't mean we believe that you shouldn't have a say in if you get an abortion.

A lot of women are NRA members and have a concealed carry permit so they can protect themselves, their children, etc. Maybe they recently got out of a domestic violence situation, or have been harassed by an ex. If you are lucky enough, you can get a piece of paper that gives you some form of legal protection, but a law or a rule won't stop a criminal.

Why do women who claim to be feminists tear down or shame other women because of political differences?

I know I will never hate another woman based on her political party. I didn't want Hilary Clinton to win because I didn't agree with any of her policies, not based on political parties and not because I thought a man is supposed to be in charge. I think it's awesome I got to see two women be candidates in this past presidential election.

We live in a society where we are considered equal to men. Is it perfect? No. But the most important right previous movements gave us, is the right to an opinion and to seek justice. Women have access to birth control just like men, in fact, women have more birth control options than men. Women can speak out and seek justice and protection from violent relationships, and so can men. It is also true men face more stigmas than women when it comes to domestic/dating violence and sexual assault. Men are expected to be the ones who are the aggressors, not the abused or assaulted. Nobody talks about that fact.

I'll leave you with this: if it is so bad here, then why do so many people aspire to start a life here? We are the land of the free. We are not perfect, but we are the closest to perfect here than anywhere else.

Cover Image Credit:

Pexels

Related Content

Facebook Comments