Tuesday, April 24

Muslim students to unveil truth behind stigmas at the Hijab Monologues


Despite experiencing Islamophobia, fourth-year anthropology student Damali Stennette wears a hijab because, like her race and gender, it is an integral part of her identity. She will join Muslim UCLA students – women and men – in sharing their relationships with the Muslim custom of wearing the hijab through a spoken word performance at the Hijab Monologues on Tuesday in Franz Hall. (Daniel Alcazar/Photo editor)

Despite experiencing Islamophobia, fourth-year anthropology student Damali Stennette wears a hijab because, like her race and gender, it is an integral part of her identity. She will join Muslim UCLA students – women and men – in sharing their relationships with the Muslim custom of wearing the hijab through a spoken word performance at the Hijab Monologues on Tuesday in Franz Hall. (Daniel Alcazar/Photo editor)


Damali Stennette was wearing her hijab when a Christian preacher singled her out from the Bruin Walk crowd.

The preacher said, “You are evil, and everything that will come out of your womb is evil because you are Muslim.”

Stennette, a fourth-year anthropology student, said she chooses to continue wearing the hijab despite occasional harassment because Islam, like her race and gender, is an integral part of her identity.

“I’m already a woman, and I’m already black,” Stennette said. “I could take off my hijab, but I’ll feel vulnerable regardless.”

Stennette will share her story and other accounts of struggles she has faced as a black woman who wears the hijab in her spoken word performance at the Hijab Monologues on Tuesday.

Stennette will join six Muslim UCLA students as they to explore their personal relationships with the Muslim custom of wearing the hijab, the traditional Muslim headscarf, said the show’s founder and director Merima Tričić.

Stennette said the show, which combines the traditional monologue format with mediums like dance, poetry and stand-up comedy, displays the diversity of every woman’s experience wearing the hijab. She added that the show reinforces she is not alone in her struggle against Islamophobia.

Tričić said she came up with the idea for the show at the start of her college career, when she began wearing the hijab. She realized Islam was only discussed in a lecture format and wanted to set up a creative platform on her campus to educate non-Muslims about Islam and the traditional headdress, the fourth-year political science, study of religion, and world arts and cultures student said.

One such stereotype, Tričić said, is the perception of Muslim women as oppressed.

“If you go on Google and type in ‘Muslim women,’ I guarantee you the first three or four pages is all these sad women in black with jail bars on their face,” Tričić said.

Tričić said she started wearing the hijab because she wanted to establish herself as a Muslim woman in academia. When people imply she is oppressed by her religion, Tričić said she occasionally responds by listing historical examples of female Muslim scholars, teachers and warriors.

For Stennette, too, the hijab is the opposite of oppressive.

She said she once passed a group of students dressed in formal wear, noting that males were fully suited and buttoned up to their necks while females generally showed much more skin. Stennette said she wondered why Muslim women are considered oppressed when some Western standards of dress place an emphasis on women’s bodies.

“(My hijab) allows people to get to know me and see me for who I am rather than my body,” Stennette said. “There are a lot of women who feel a sense of freedom from being covered.”

In addition to female performers engaging in dialogue about their hijabs, the Hijab Monologues also includes male performers who will speak about Muslim men’s treatment of Muslim women.

Wali Kamal, a fourth-year applied mathematics student and cartoonist for Al-Talib who plans to attend the event, said the word “hijab” in Arabic connotes a general code of conduct and modest dress that applies to both genders. While the focus of the Hijab Monologues is on women, male and female Muslims’ narratives about modesty are two sides of the same coin, he said.

Tričić said in light of recent events on campus, such as a chalk writing in South Campus saying “Stop the Jihad” and the David Horowitz poster incident, she is concerned some students might abuse the event space for nonconstructive purposes.

“I’ve had a student on campus yell ‘Allahu Akbar’ at me and make explosion noises,” Tričić said.

Tričić said despite prominent encounters with Islamophobia, she receives more positive than negative reactions to her hijab. Once, a woman sitting next to Tričić on an airplane apologized to her about Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and ordered her snacks and soda, she said.

Tričić said above all, she hopes the event will educate non-Muslims about a reality of Islam untainted by media bias. While screening and editing performance pieces, Tričić was conscious of making the material as accessible as possible by elaborating on Arabic words or concepts foreign to non-Muslim students. Students who don’t understand Islam or the hijab are welcome to ask the performers questions after the show, she said.

Tričić also said she encourages students to set aside fears of being politically incorrect in order to fully use the opportunity to learn about Islam directly from Muslim people. She said several non-Muslim audience members have approached her after past Hijab Monologues to tell her they enjoyed the event because they learned things from their Muslim peers that they would have been too afraid to ask about directly.

“I want to show people I’m human,” Stennette said. “I hope UCLA students learn that Muslim women are regular people who cover a little bit more of our bodies.”

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  • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

    LOL! Pathetic!

    • Deuce Prez

      IF, by chance, you were referring to the cowardly Christian preacher that singled out the sister for her expression of spirituality, you would be correct. He and what he stated are pathetic!

      However, your use of the Russian man with the 1940s depiction of a bomb is offensive on MANY levels!

      • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

        You mean the alleged incident.

        • Dajjal

          if the preacher said that, it was a bit too blunt even though it is true. Allah is satan. Moe was demon possessed and his cult is demonic. Muslims are Satan’s slaves. The preacher should have told her about the origin of the hijab she is so proud of. It relates to open defecation in the desert, not piety or modesty.

          • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

            I doubt any preacher would say that.

          • Dajjal

            There are a few. Not all of them are highly polished.

          • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

            Yes, you are probably correct.

      • roccolore

        Muslim cowards have to resort to faking the hate.

  • Deuce Prez

    I would take the opportunity of said ignorant student (hollering “Allahu-Akbar” at me) to ask him or her if they were atheist. If they say yes, then I’d tell them why I understand them being sarcastic about the statement “God is the Greatest“.

    If they are not atheist, ask them if they even know what the Arabic statement means in English. If not, translate it for them. Muslims worship the same God that the Jews & Christians worship. The same God Who created the heavens and the earth and everything in and on them….including humans.

    *Remember: There are as many Islamaphobic sources of misinformation against Islam & Muslim as there are sources of facts that promote the truth about both. They may simply be voicing the unqualified opinions of one more ignorant about Islam and Muslims as themselves.

  • Sean

    “The preacher said, “You are evil, and everything that will come out of your womb is evil because you are Muslim.”

    I don’t believe this happened. I think we have a false witness here, again trying to drum up “Islamophobic” incidents to promote her victim narrative.

    Deuce Prez says: “Muslims worship the same God that the Jews & Christians worship.”

    When Mohamed the prophet of Islam was inventing his new religion and trying to get people to believe it, there were many prosperous and successful Jews and Christians in the region that he wanted to woo. As a result, he adopted their god and some of their stories and traditions into Islam.

    He didn’t do it very well, because he was both illiterate and arrogant. The Jews and Christians said “No way. This has nothing to do with us or our god.” This initial rejection is why Islam is so antagonistic towards Christians and Jews and treats them with profound animosity.

    Deuce, your statement corrected should say “Muslims believe that Muslims worship the same God that the Jews & Christians worship.”

    “There are as many Islamaphobic sources of misinformation against Islam & Muslim as there are sources of facts that promote the truth about both.”

    Great. Tell us the hadith collections you consider reliable. Is Al Azhar a reliable source of information? What are your scholars of choice? Stop hiding your light under a bushel and let it shine.

    • Dajjal

      Read Surah Al-Kaffiroon in the light of Sahih Bukhari 4.52.164 and try to convince me that Allah is God.

      • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

        Or sura 109:1-6.

        • Dajjal

          Same thing!

          • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

            Exactly.

    • http://pislamonauseacentral.tumblr.com/ Gary Rumain

      allah was one of 360 stone idols in the kaaba. So there was no need for Mahound to explain who allah was. Everyone knew who he was referring to. To claim he was God was a concoction on Mahound’s part.