Today’s post is a guest post from my neighbor and landlady, Alice. She wrote this in response to a visit we made to a local Dairy Queen a few weeks ago.
I winked at you, slowly, and you relaxed.
From where I sat in the Dairy Queen with my neighbors, I had watched
anxiety play over your face. You had never seen a covey of Muslims in full
Khadijah and her daughters in their flowing black hijaabs. Her sons in
their Muslim men’s clothings, long wrap kilts over slacks, and long sleeved shirts
in the middle of summer. Her family had lived in Yemen, going to school while
Khadiah taught, and they adopted the clothing style there that sets them off from
the Ozark crowd of folks coming in for a quick ice cream.
Your bewilderment showed. Thoughtful blue eyes in a wrinkled face. The
white bushy eyebrows of an older gentleman. The questions of who, why, and
where-are-they-from flickered as you looked from one of them to the other. Eight
women in black; two young men in whatever-that-is.
Your eyes moved to me, the red haired, obviously non-Muslim, with arms
exposed by my sleeveless dress as I sat among my friends. I caught your eye
and winked. Smiled.
Your tentative returned smile led to relaxation, and the questions were left
unasked and unanswered. You felt safe, reassured by my small signal.
Imagine for a moment, kind sir, how they feel every time they leave their
home, dressed as instructed by their religious beliefs. Their choice of religion is
protected by our Constitution, but they are in peril every time they appear in
public. Rudeness, hostility, the cold stares of people who spend too much time
on the news channels, swallowing propaganda of hate. Imagine the bravery it
takes for everyone in the group, from the mother to the four year old daughter, to
venture out from the sanctity of their small farm. Imagine the courage and
A smile would be nice next time, and I’ll save a wink for after.
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