Monday, August 22, 2005

I like to be in America…

Remember the song in West Side Story where the men were singing how much they liked America, and the women had just as many reasons to hate it to sing back? Yeah, my life is kinda like that right now

I HATE it here in Wyoming… Truthfully I would rather just pack it up and move to Egypt. You see what the US is, Wyoming is; only more pronounced. We are still a cowboy state in so many ways. No regulations, no desire to be progressive and basically everyone just does as they please. Which works fine when you are in the majority. It becomes oppressive when you are in the minority though.

I never really felt like people want us here. We just don’t melt enough for Wyoming pot. You see, I just refuse to accept the culture and blend with the natives. And I never will. I can’t stay true to myself and do so.

So this leads me to a question that has plagued me since I converted. We (Americans) say we are accepting and we are an immigrant nation after all… But are we really? I would say no. I would say that America has developed its’ own expectation for conformity. So we are “free” to follow the American way, but not free to follow our own beliefs without criticism from the masses. Ironically, the self-proclaimed leaders of the free world are incredibly restricted in their behavior and beliefs.

So, I am ready to trade the illusion of freedom for a place where at least the majority includes people like me. I really don’t know that it is a solution, but at least I wouldn’t feel that daily life is an uphill battle. But my husband insists that I should just endure and stay here to make money. Yeah, “I like to be in America!”

I wish the average American could see the country for what it is. I am stared down daily by women who obviously think I am a totally oppressed freak, bombarded with images of holidays I don’t celebrate, surrounded by a culture whose beliefs are almost polar opposite of my own… And to be honest I don’t mind it. What I do mind is that I feel these things are being forced on me. That I am somehow un-American because I don’t sit out on my patio in my tank top drinking Coors Light while grillin’ up some ribs. And I don’t put up a big Christmas tree in my living room every year and cover my roof with lights.

What’s a girl to do? Well, I think with my daughter heading to school this year at my DH’s insistence I am going to be thinking about that question a lot more in the near future. I went and talked to her teacher today and would you believe me if I told you they spent an entire month doing different Christmas activities? That the name of the unit they do is called Hat’s Off to Christmas? See what I mean about oppressive to minorities? I can’t really pull my kids out for an entire month. Of course the good part about this is that my DH is getting serious about home schooling as a real option even though public school is available to us now. Insha’Allah, he will see that what I said about keeping her home is better in the end for her education and her identity as a Muslim. Insha’Allah,

10 comments:

Surviving said...

From my experience, living in Yemen, I actually didn't feel anymore comfortable there then I do here. Of course, Yemen is a very conservative country and probably more behind the times the most countries.

lala-po said...

al salam alaikum-

I second what surviving said, except my experience was in egypt. I was very unhappy there, and felt like a fish out of water.

UmmLayla said...

I think it is the convert's lot in life to feel a little out of place no matter where they go. And I am fine with that. I know that in the end you just hav to bloom where you are planted.... Now if I could just put that thought into action.

cncz said...

i agree with the home schooling stuff...they tried to fail my husband an entire year of school because he refused to wear speedos at the swimming pool during PE class. I am serious. He tried to explain that in the religion you don't go around showing your package...I cringe at the thought of Christmas activities. At least in France they don't have that.

I actually feel at home most places I go, but it must be because underneath the hijab I am a bourgeoise white girl. Just kidding. Then again, if I didn't like some place, I moved.

cncz said...

to add-- not fitting in was why we left zurich. when we knew it wasn't working, we left. there are more muslims here in lausanne that are from north africa, and that helps us a lot. there are also a lot of expat americans, so the melting pot is enough. i can imagine in somewhere more rural...egash...

UmmLayla said...

Yeah, a girl I know here in town home schooled herself because in high school here in Laramie they failed her on a big English assignment because it was supposed to be "My Best Christmas Ever" and she is Jewish, so she wrote about Hanukkah. Small towns, small towns... But I have heard about the swimming thing. Bilal Phillips talks about it in one of his lectures. I guess where he grew up they were expected to get naked in PE... And he talks about how our system is set to break down some of the natural inclinations we have like hayah. I totally agree with that premise.

Not to mention that the quality of education in most areas is a joke. So, why would I endure all this other stuff and send my daughter to a school were I just know they are thinking "crazy Muslims"? Not like it will guarantee her a great education or anything.

We are working out some type of home schooling so she won't be there long, insha'Allah. And in my DH's words, "She won't be affected by a couple of weeks." Insha'Allah, he is right.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams,
Do you think your experiences might have to do with the part of America you're living in? Perhaps if you moved, it might make a difference? Just a thought...

UmmLayla said...

Oh yeah, I do think where in the US we live makes a big difference Saffiyah. But, DH is not so big on moving right now. I have thought about going to Denver for the school year... But it has so many reasons that it wouldn't work very well.

Where I grew up in Denver the schools I attended were really good about sticking with academics. They never did Christmas stuff or anything. I was actually so shocked when I heard about this whole unit on x-mas that I called other people here in WY and asked if all the schools are like that. Sure enough the answer was yes.

The weird thing is DH thinks of Egypt before he thinks of another place in the states... Weird huh? You would think that moving overseas would be a last resort. That's my DH... Always swimming upstream...

Um Ibrahim said...

Think about this: where are you more needed? where can you make more of a difference? There are plenty of muslims in Egypt. Just your presence in the US when someone sees you in the store or street gets people to atleast think about Islam and may lead them to find out more about it. When you go to your daughter's school and they see you smiling or playing with your child then they will realize that you are just a normal person and they will not just stop being afraid of you , but of all Muslims.

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