High school is strange in every way possible. I think most high schoolers can agree with me when I say everyone hates it.It gets, even more, stranger when you are Somali girl who wears the Hijab who decides join the cross country. As someone who came to the United State relatively young I never really viewed myself as “other” because I have been around others just like me. Joining a sport that is mostly dominated by white females quickly made me realize that I indeed view as a “stranger.” Before joining the team I knew that I live in a white state and the people I was interacting with have properly never interacted with people who look like me, but I went in thinking that no matter what happens, surely they know I am human first and foremost. The fact that most people saw me as a stranger in the sense that I do not fit the typical description became very obvious when an official completely skipped me over because “I did not appear like a runner even though I was wearing a uniform. This was the moment that I realized that there might some truth to why my did not me to join the team. I loved running and cross country was and continue to one of my favorite sport but I often wonder if it was worth it. If it was worth constantly feeling lonely because there was never another person who look like me let alone have the same beliefs. It was worth dealing with the constant microaggression of racism, Islamophobia, and the xenophobia that followed me everywhere I went. If it was worth constantly having to defend everything I stood for. If it was worth being ostracized from my own community because they saw me as the “bad” apple. There are days the answer to these question is because nobody should have a deal with people who are hateful and often choose to remain ignorant. No, because I often look at people and expect the worse even though I try every day to see the best in them. No, because this experience left me having a hard time thinking about the word home since I never felt home anywhere that I have been. No, because I was constantly told I was not good enough to be part of something and after a while, I began to wonder if I would ever be good enough. But there are always days when the answer to this question is yes because I have learned more about myself in those four years than any period of time in my life.
I have learned that my struggle was nothing special, in fact, it was far from remotely being special. There were and are countless Muslim refugees who are making their own path unapologetically even though every day they have a deal with people that they constantly telling them that they are not good enough simply because they do not fit the “normal” American description. I learn that this is precisely what I want these people to see. I no longer had the desire to succumb to their definition of what being an American means. I have already compromised enough and I no longer had the desire to assimilate and destroy the remaining things that made me, me!
Women of the World Poetry Slam Finals 2016 – Emi Mahmoud. Youtube Video, 3:32. Posted by“Poetry Slam Inc.” March 30, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaFq-Twad70