Like the rest of America, I heard Bill O’ Riley’s ignorant and ridiculous comments about the G.O.A.T. Congresswoman Maxine Waters. After watching a clip of Waters giving a speech on the House floor O’Riley made the following remarks about Waters hair, “I — I didn’t hear a word she said…I was looking at the James Brown wig.” More comments followed about Water’s hair that I won’t even waste the space to repeat. You can find them just about everywhere now. Soon after, Waters, in all of her class and grace, responded to O’ Riley on MSNBC’s “All in with Chris Hayes” by stating,
“Let me just say this: I’m a strong black woman and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined. I cannot be thought to be afraid of Bill O’Reilly or anybody “And I’d like to say to women out there everywhere: Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are. Do what you do. And let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country.”
Congresswoman Water’s response is perfect, but the fact that she even had to give a response to such idiotic comments in 2017 still baffles me. In the wake of the incident we even saw the rise of the hashtag #blackwomenatwork which highlights the day to day racism that black women face in the work across the country. But this controversy highlighted something even more profound for myself.
On March 27th it was the first Muslim Women’s Day. A day meant to recognize, during Women’s History Month, the contributions that Muslim Women have made in this country, and one could argue, globally. As I followed the day on twitter the haters on twitter were big mad. Many making comments that Islam oppressed and harmed women and confused on why there was a holiday celebrating this oppression. Some users used pictures of women in niqab (face veils) and hijabs as examples of their oppressions. One user says
It’s hilarious to me how White America always thinks that removing my hijab is a step towards my freedom. That its somehow a “step forward” The woman in the above tweet is just one of many White conservatives who believe that somehow if we all were to take our hijabs off, we would just be set free like animals rereleased back into the wild. Except, if I personally were to take my hijab off it’s been proven over and over again that White America would still not be happy. And that is because, White America hates my hair.
I have what is known as Black Hair. Black hair had been called nappy, unprofessional, dirty, etc. Black men and women have been banned and fired from jobs and schools for having natural hair and hair styles. Children have been suspended and have had their educations interrupted because of the hair that naturally comes out of their scalp. So if for some reason I were to take off my hijab I still wouldn’t be free in this country. I would constantly have to battle with White America for the right to wear my hair the way that God gave it to me in public spaces. The same way I have to fight with White America to wear my hijab in public spaces. I would have to constantly answer bigoted and ignorant questions about my hair. The same way I constantly have to answer bigoted and ignorant questions about my hijab. I would still have the potential to be discriminated against and fired from work with my natural hair the same way I would with my hijab. White America, still wouldn’t accept me as me, because my hair would still be a problem. So where is this freedom that they keep talking about? Where is this progress forward? If a Congresswoman can’t be respected on national television, then what hope would I have? It’s time for them to stop pretending that their policing of my hijab and my body is nothing less that the racism and Islamophobia that it is. Because with or without my hijab, there would be no freedom for me.