From Yemen to Brooklyn, a Muslim girl grows into a tattooed feminist who's not shy about showing her skin--or flaunting her faith. And her heritage fuses as perfectly with her self-expression as her ink does to her skin. It's her way of being radical, and her way of exerting supreme self-control.
Her story, produced by Tahini Rahman with the "Feet in 2 Worlds" Project, of The New School, comes at a time when a Supreme Court ruling on Trump's so-called Muslim ban threatens to shutter borders arbitrarily to milllions, because of an image of Islam that is absurdly out of sync with the lives of many young people on either side of the border. Yet the government has decided that they pose a terrorist threat to the country. Our narrator knows a few things about transgressing borders, real and imagined, and everything in between. Her world isn't one of walls; Brooklyn, for her, is a "fluid world." The political arena doesn't have room for people in her community, but regardless of what Trump's immigration bans dictate, for women like her, spiritual aspirations, and carnal desires, respect no borders.
--Michelle Chen, June 24 2017
My Hijab, My Body: The Journey of a Tattooed Yemeni Feminist
“I’m the one that’s struggling to live between two worlds, people think I have two identities, I don’t. You compromise.”
A young woman leaves her family’s home in Brooklyn every morning wearing a hijab around her head and an abaya, a floor-length dress intended to protect her modesty as a Muslim woman. But when she gets to the subway, she makes the switch.
She arrives at her job in Manhattan with her head uncovered.
“When I first took [the hijab] off, I felt it was such an elaborate performance, but after two or three months, I’m so quick with it, I’m like a little ninja, you’ll be shocked how fast I do it, I remember a woman looked at me and was like ‘did I just see this girl?'”
Reporter Tahini Rahman produced our story about how a young Muslim woman struggles to reconcile being the person she wants to be and the woman her parents want her to be.
More about Feet in 2 Worlds: From a community center in Queens for elderly Indian immigrants, to a 99 Cent store in Brooklyn’s Chinatown, our newest podcasts explore culturally diverse spaces around New York City and the people who bring them to life. Read more here, and follow them on Twitter @fi2w or #TellingImmigrantStories