Somewhere in America? Somewhere in America there is Muslim sister whose scarf is slipping slightly as she nods off on her train ride coming off the late shift. Somewhere in America a niqabi is frustrated in a Muslim clothing store because the “L” sizing on the jlbabs they sell is false marketing. Somewhere in America a Muslim mother tries to sooth a screaming baby while she debates whether the scarf on her head is large enough for an impromptu breastfeeding session. Somewhere in America a Muslim woman giggles with glee after finding the perfect shade of plum. Somewhere in America a Muslim woman is grateful that her headscarf style will cover the choke marks on her neck. Everywhere in America, a Muslim woman’s headscarf is not only some sex, swag and consumption, it also belief and beauty, defiance and struggle, secrets and shame.
I know some people are celebrating this video and others criticizing it. I think it’s pretty clear I fall in the second camp. Yet, while it could be so much more. It actually does what it intends to do so effectively. Nothing in this video should surprise you. After all it is being championed by a group called the mipsterz—as in Muslim Hipsters—with no sense of irony. A friend remarked to me that the video was particularly tragic because our champion Ibtihaj Muhammad is in it, and she has been lauded by folks like Hilary Clinton for being a role model. And this video and its background song, replete with profanity including the N-word, seem far from that acclaim. Yet I don’t think it’s incongrous that the same person who Clinton lauded would end up in a video with Jay-Z as a back drop, both Clinton and Jay assert and epitomize American Exceptionalist Capitalism par excellence—and by this I mean the way they would approrpirate her not necessarily how she sees herself. And lest we forget, even Obama has Jay on his Ipod. The video is full frontal consumption and thus can only offer narrow visions of who Muslim women are, even in the attempt to show diversity but again how American is that?! I must admit I may have been a tad bit surprised that they didn’t bleep out at least the N-word but maybe they were aiming for that “ironic” hispter racism. Maybe in the remix they will swap out Nigga for Abeed.
Somewhere in a America opinion piece by Dr Suad Abdul Khabeer #Mipsterz