To be carefree and Muslim is no easy thing.
To know that there is a story that the world tells about you — a story of violence, of extremism, of oppression — without knowing you, without any full sense of the facts is a weight that most Muslim Americans live with.
We are at once too much and not enough. At once an example that we ought to provide of a good Muslim and without any toolkit as to what the Good Muslim is. Is she devout? Westernized? Wearing a hijab or smoking a cigarette?
For me, the moment when I understood this was a clean break. It was just after 9-11. The moment, for me, when someone who was Islamophobic was not just a stranger — hateful and unknown — but people who knew me, who I went to school with. People who had invited me into their homes and people who had held my hand.
It was jarring and disorienting, to think that one piece of my identity, one simple fact about me could override a whole lifetime of experience.
It’s more jarring, sitting and writing this, trying to find the words for what it means to be a carefree Muslim girl, when Christchurch has just happened.