The events of Sept. 11, 2001, arguably have helped fuel Islamophobia in America. Following the shocking attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people that day, many Muslims were victims of offensive slurs and hate crimes.
Recently, singer SZA, who was raised in a Muslim household, revealed that she was “so scared” to wear her hijab covering in fear of the reactions it would incite following the 2001 terroristic attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. The 30-year-old spoke about it this month with Muslim Girl blog site during a live stream session to talk about growing up as a Muslim in a predominantly white neighborhood in New Jersey and detailed her experience dealing with Islamophobia.
SZA, whose real name is Solána Imani Rowe, revealed that she stopped wearing her hijab covering after 9/11 because she was “so scared.” “I regret so much, like being afraid or caring what people said about me or in high school feeling like if I didn’t cover all the time that I can’t start covering some of the time,” she explained.
The Grammy-nominated artist said that she didn’t start wearing her hijab again until high school, but said she faced pushback from members in the Muslim community who felt she wasn’t devout enough. “They were like, ‘What is this? You don’t live your life properly. You’re not really Muslim. Shut up.’ I always let somebody dictate how I was,” she explained.
Elsewhere, non-Muslims would tell the singer that she was “oppressed” because of her head covering. “I couldn’t believe Islamophobia that I was seeing and all of the misinformation, like randomly deciding I’m oppressed because I’m covering my hair,” she expressed.
When it came to personal attacks, SZA noted that she hasn’t been a direct victim of Islamophobia in a while but cited her not wearing her covering as the main reason. “I’m not being hyper observant, and I think that I want to be able to use whatever privilege to educate them so that they don’t do it to other people because it’s disgusting and really ignorant,” she explained.
The singer said she’s often thought about wearing her hijab again, telling the outlet, “I remember the other day even talking to Punch, my manager, and being like, ‘Oh, I want to wear a hijab. I wonder if I could.’ We played Malaysia and Indonesia, and it was really comforting to be able to cover up for those shows.” She added, “I didn’t feel like anybody would judge me or was going to say that I was being fake. It was just part of the custom, where I’m amongst my own people, and they just accepted me as whatever. They were like, cover cause it’s a vibe. You don’t have to be perfect. And I just really love that. I always go back and forth about, like, should I cover? Because I don’t want to be a part-time coverer.”