Today I went to the gym. I was in a good mood; the sun was actually shining here in Michigan. We’ve only had a couple of days of pure sun since November and the rays penetrated my skin down to my soul, lifting my spirits. I punched away at the heavy bag in my extreme kickboxing class, singing along with the instructor to the music of Prince playing in the room. I will always sing and dance to Prince–wherever I am.
After the class I wandered upstairs to leave and found a cluster of my friends standing and talking. I yelled at them for having a party and not inviting me. They laughed and waved me in. One of my friend’s was complaining that she didn’t want to work out…she hadn’t worked out in months and had only come up to the gym to see all of us. And-for the coffee. We all jumped on her, teasing her to get back to the classes, to quit making excuses…she laughed at us, and we at her.
We discussed politics…the “Bowling Green Massacre” and other alternative facts of late. One friend said that she was personally pro-life but that she could never take away a woman’s choice from her and put it into the hands of men. Another said that she was born here, even though her parents were immigrants. She was an American. One friend said she wanted to travel across the country with her family before her children were too old…but now she was afraid to do so.
All of my friends were afraid.
All of my friends in this group were Muslim women.
They all wore hijabs.
They are my friends. They are smart and funny and sweet and kind–and I tried my best to tell them that there are many that support them. That I support them.
I wanted to somehow take a secret video of this group. I know there are some people out there that still think that all Muslim women are beaten, scared, subservient. I wanted to be able to pull my video out and use it as a teaching tool–to show others that what they see on television or in the movies is propaganda–similar to what has been used with African Americans. I wanted the people in this country that are frightened of the sight of a hijab to know what I know–that these women are just like you and me. They get frustrated with traffic, they worry about their children, they love dessert, and they still love me even though I swear too much.
They are my friends.
Together we will stand strong against the forces of hate and intolerance.
Together we will show compassion for others and choose love.
The sun is still shining.