Maria Khwaja: “Western” is not a term you could apply to me unless I went back and rewrote my history. They could remove a scarf, I could do it myself, but I would still be this color and from this place. How can I ignore the burned pages and missing chapters in my “Heritage” section? The footsteps of my grandparents who walked across an artificial border 70 years ago? The stubborn resilience of my people (yes, I still consider them my people) who have cobbled together a megacity even in the face of Taliban explosives?
Even if I identified as American, which I usually do, everyone will still ask me, “Where are you from?” Should I apologize for the confusion, for my brown skin, American accent and ambiguous first name? Should I apologize for my Pakistani-Muslim-feminist views? Shall I whitewash my skin or become invisible like my sister in magical robes
The robes, I wanted to tell my sister, worked in certain places. They would make her invisible to some. Others would see red and, like bulls, rip them from her. How could I explain that all the pulling only takes away her choice? Our choice? That reform in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran needs to come from within us? That insisting on folding the post-colonial world into a Western cover smothers our torn histories and our screams? That my own, the Moroccans and the Indonesians and the Pakistanis (they are all “mine”), feel that the ground splits and tears under them as they struggle to find footing in a world where white men are in charge? That if they are not in charge, they are propping up tyrants or dropping drones? More here.