One of the reasons I decided to move to beautiful Los Angeles, California was because some bootleg Malaysian newspaper writer who straight up stole my convert story and published it in his country said I was from Los Angeles. Just kidding - (although I thought it was pretty funny that they just made facts up out of thin air and I was quite offended that he used a picture of some really unattractive white chick to represent me in the article! Rude.)
I moved here because of diversity.
I came to visit a friend, walked the streets of Hollywood and people said "salaam" to me when they saw my hijab. White people!
So, when I experienced people speaking 20 different languages when I walked a one mile stretch of sidewalk, I realized how beautiful that was and that I wanted to be a part of it. Permanently.
A month later I moved here.
I'm a sucker for diversity, what can I say?
And, guess what... people are cool to me here ALL THE TIME!
I go out to lunch with my Asian boss and white people on the sidewalk go out of their way to say "salaam" - the greeting that Muslims give each other meaning peace. How cute is that?
PLUS, they do it in the sweetest voice and they touched their little hearts when they said it. Merrrrr ... adorable!!
This is a beautiful example I wish everyone had the opportunity to experience, because I wasn't experiencing that in Toledo, Ohio.
The one thing I have noticed about Los Angeles, however, is everyone is curious about me.
I'm not saying that because I think I'm God's gift to earth and I'm like Los Angeles' own unicorn or something... I mean because I look different.
I hold open houses every weekend to advertise the houses we have for sale and 1 out of every 3 people ask me where I'm from.
No matter what their ethnicity is.
And, they don't do it in a mean way. They do it out of love.
Usually though I think it's so annoying!
Standard Couple #1: WHERE ARE YOU FROMMMMM?
Me: I'm from here.
Standard Couple #2:NOOOO I MEAN WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS FROM?
Standard Couple #3: NO I MEAN ORIGINALLY
What does it matter? Are you writing a book?
If I say my dad is from Iraq will that make you feel any different?
I thought about making up a story that my dad is Saudi and my mom is Syrian just so people don't ask the follow up questions...
Eventually the conversation goes:
OOOOOKAYYYY WHAT'S YOUR NATIONALITY?
OH AND YOU'RE MUSLIM?
AH I SEE. DID YOU CONVERT?
Yes, I did.
OHHHH WHAT DOES YOUR FAMILY THINK? HOW MANY TIMES A DAY DO YOU PRAY? DO YOU SPEAK ARABIC? WHAT IS YOUR DAD'S COUSIN PHIL'S MIDDLE NAME?
None of your business! UGH! This is a Spanish style house, that's all you need to know.
Today I was reflecting on this, preparing for a meeting where I was sure I would be asked my nationality, and I realized it's not as annoying as I feel like it is.
It's actually a blessing.
Instead of being negative I should be appreciative that people are nice enough to ask and strike up a conversation as if they actually care about a stranger.
It might not be consistent with modern social cues, but it's very nice that they ask and are curious.
I'd much rather people be curious than afraid.
This post is a reminder for me to work on myself - to be more open to answering people's questions - regardless of where I am, how rushed I am, or what I'm doing.
These people are giving me the opportunity to educate them without hatred. How awesome.
May Allah (swt) teach us all to be guided guiders and teach others about our religion for all of its beauty. May we be as curious of others as they are of us, and in a positive way. Ameen.