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Since the blowup over the incident with the two women who were wrongfully removed from sitting behind Senator Obama because they were wearing hijabs, there have been several diaries here discussing the issue, and I have tried to read all of the comments.  

I was distressed by some of the remarks made in the diaries, and I won't call out anyone's names but my distress is based on the fact that I often wear a headwrap as a black woman here in the US for religious, cultural and ancestral reasons.

Some people who commented even asserted that the volunteers who took these steps were correct, since it would "protect" our candidate from the current slew of right-wing smears.  

I was perturbed by what I feel is both a xenophobic and ethnocentric perspective on head-covering, and to explain how those of us who do wear them can identify with the feelings of the two women who were discriminated against.  More importantly, I want to raise the issue in a broader context, and to discuss how this speaks to larger issues of diversity here in the United States.

My concern is two-fold.  I am not Muslim.  I do not wear a hijab.  I wear a gele.  So, if I go out to a rally to support my candidate, will some over-zealous volunteer decide, wrongfully, that I don't deserve to be in a photo?  

The gele, or African headwrap is an old cultural tradition, and is found not only in many parts of Africa, but is part of a tradition, both cultural and religious, in the New World - in the Caribbean, in Brazil, and right here in the US in Lousisiana and other parts of the south.

 
During the sixties, many black women learned to reclaim a pride in their African heritage, and have embraced fabrics, styles and colors that enhance their beauty.  For a long time many of us have been subjected to attempting to look like our white sisters, and millions of dollars have been made by hairdressers and beauty product manufacturers who sell products to straighten and remove any traces of kink from black hair textures.  

It started with the "afro" hairstyle or a "natural" as it was called at that time, but has since then evolved into braids of all kinds, as well as hair that is "locked", and also the reclaiming of the beautiful head wraps worn by women of Africa. Some of our popular songstresses sported headwraps when they chose to make a statement about a link to Africa.

Nina Simone

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Aretha Franklin

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I'm not knocking any of my sisters who continue to straighten their hair, but in todays world we have choices, and I choose to wear my hair curly, and also to wear head wraps.

Me

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Historically, in New Orleans  free women of color, many of whom were of mixed-ancestry were mandated by law to cover their heads - to distinguish them from white women.  

Creole woman in a tignon

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A portrait of Queen Marie Laveaux - high priestess of New Orleans in a tignon

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A tignon (also spelled and pronounced tiyon) is a series of headscarves or a large piece of material tied or wrapped around the head to form a kind of turban that resembles the West African gélé. It was worn by Creole women in Louisiana beginning in the Spanish colonial period, and continuing to a much lesser extent to the present day.
This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1785 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced appropriate public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society. At this time in Louisiana history, women of color vied with white women in beauty, dress, ostentation and manners. Many of them had become the placées of white French and Spanish Creole men, and this incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. One complaint that found currency with the authorities was that white men, in pursuing flirtations or liaisons, sometimes mistook and accosted women of the elite for the light-skinned, long-haired, but mixed-race women.
As a result, Governor Miró decreed that women of color and black women, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from "excessive attention to dress" themselves in jewels or feathers to maintain class distinctions. But the women who were targets of this decree were inventive and imaginative. They decorated tignons with their jewels, ribbons, or by using the finest colored materials with which to wrap their hair. In other words, "[t]hey effectively re-interpreted the law without technically breaking the law"[1]--and they continued to be pursued by men.

The tignon can be wrapped in many ways, and part of its uniqueness is that it was and is worn in an entirely different way by every woman. Madras was a popular fabric for tignons among both free and slave populations, and has become iconic. Tignons were often created out of scraps of undyed fabric given to slaves by their masters. The fabrics, of course, were of seemingly disparate weaves, prints or patterns. Wasted or flawed material was made to unaccountably match and appear festive. The tignons worn by women of color or African women slaves in Louisiana and the Caribbean could be much more distinctive than those worn by American black slaves, and even had hidden messages.

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

Black women who worked in the fields also covered their heads, to escape the relentless sun.  We did not have the luxury of parasols, or to be seated on shaded verandas.  

The tignon or gélé is experiencing a resurgence in American fashion. It is found particularly in Creole-themed weddings. Celebrities such as Erykah Badu and Jill Scott have revived it, transforming the controversial headwrapping into a celebration of American culture.

Erykah Badu
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But there are also religious reasons for the head wrap.  Over 60 million people in the New World practice African Religious traditions (ATRs) known in Cuba as Lukumi, or more popularly as "Santeria", in Brazil as Candomble, and in other parts of the Caribbean as Voudoun (Haiti) or Shango (Trinidad)

The covering of ones head (ori) which is a sacred part of the body is done during ceremony.  For those familiar with Hindu theology - think of the head chakra.

I am an initiated priestess in the Lukumi Cuban tradition and I cover my head when in ceremony, or when going through periods of mourning, or celebration.  We also wear white clothing at gatherings or during specific time periods.

Some of my ancestors were from New Orleans, and wore the tignon. I wear my head covering as a badge of pride - not shame.  I respect the religious traditions of others, and when I chose to embrace an African Diasporic religious tradition,to become an initiated priestess because Christianity didn't fit into my world view, it did not mean that I then reject the views of those of different faiths.  I respect the hijab, the yamulke, the turban, the kufi, the big hats my Christian aunts wear to Baptist church on Sundays, and those who wear no head coverings at all, or who sport baseball caps with no religious significance at all.  

Me - In ceremonial attire

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Candomble Iyalorishas (priestesses)

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We are a plural society.  More and more  Africans are now citizens of the United States.  The gele, or head wrap of African women is becoming a familiar sight on the streets of cities with large immigrant African populations.  

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More and more  African American women search the net, or take classes in how to tie a gele:

How to tie a headwrap

The Gele is celebrated in music videos:

So let us celebrate diversity, in hair styles and head coverings. The Democratic party is a big tent.  Plenty room in the tent for big head wraps as well.  So if I ever make it to a Netroots gathering look for me in a headwrap.  And when Barack Obama is sworn in in January, I'll be in the crowd, proudly waving my American flag, wearing an Obama button pinned to my gele.  

Originally posted to Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:29 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you so much for this diary (12+ / 0-)

    I too was distressed by the responses given to the situation. I know had it been Clinton during the primaries or McCain at any point doing this, or their volunteers, everyone here would have been up in arms calling them racists and all sorts of other stuff.

    I'm African American too, I'm not a Muslim, and I rarely wear any type of head scarf on my head. That being said, I was actually kind of hurt for those women and the way they were treated. I have my own theory on this, that I'd be happy to share with you (I really wish Kos had private messaging), but I am concerned.

    It's nice that Obama has apologized personally, and that the campaign apologized before that, but I honestly think this whole mess could have been avoided.

    How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

    by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:33:15 AM PDT

  •  Erykah Badu (4+ / 0-)

    one of the most inspiring and spiritual artists generated by the "roots-soul" movement, which I'd hoped would catch harder than it did.
    If I had a nickel for every time I had to explain to someone why the brand-new CD sounded like a five-year-old vinyl LP.........:) snap crackle pop...

    I still love this song. Never did get even slightly tired of it.

    Cobalt6 And I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.

    by kestrel9000 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:41:11 AM PDT

    •  I LOVE THIS SONG! So funny. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kestrel9000, Deoliver47

      Be the change you want to see in the world.

      by empathy on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:22:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kestrel9000, Deoliver47

      I have never seen a moment when she didn't look like the most gorgeous queen and goddess.
      OK, sometimes she doesn't look like a goddess, just the most gorgeous hip person I have ever seen.

      Be the change you want to see in the world.

      by empathy on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:24:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But she IS a goddess! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deoliver47

        But then, so are you and I (adjust for gender as necessary)......no one gets a pass, sorry.
        We're stuck with it.

        "You told me, 'God made the World.'"
        "No, no!" Harshaw said hastily. "I told you that, while all these many religions said many things, most of them said, 'God made the World.' I told you that I did not grok the fullness, but that 'God' was the word that was used."
        "Yes, Jubal," Mike agreed. "Word is 'God'" He added. "You grok."
        "No, I must admit I don't grok."
        "You grok," Smith repeated firmly. "I am explain. I did not have the word. You grok. Anne groks. I grok. The grass under my feet groks in happy beauty. But I needed the word. The word is God."
        Jubal shook his head to clear it. "Go ahead."
        Mike pointed triumphantly at Jubal. "Thou art God!"
        Jubal slapped a hand to his face. "Oh, Jesus H. — What have I done? Look, Mike, take it easy! Simmer down! You didn't understand me. I'm sorry. I'm very sorry! Just forget what I've been saying and we'll start over again on another day. But — "
        "Thou art God," Mike repeated serenely. "That which groks. Anne is God. I am God. The happy grass are God, Jill groks in beauty always. Jill is God. All shaping and making and creating together — ." He croaked something in Martian and smiled. (UC)

        Cobalt6 And I'd have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those meddling kids.

        by kestrel9000 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:36:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Erykah is one of the best live performers (5+ / 0-)

      in the current era. She entertains, plays multiple instruments, sings, does story telling, the whole deal. Anyone who hasn't seen her, should.

  •  Thanks for posting that I love her too n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000

    Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:42:03 AM PDT

  •  It's just fashion for me. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deoliver47

    I have several and while I can't tie them as well as my mom, it's something I'm used to wearing in public for certain occasions. All I want to say is that I don't see it the same as wearing a hijab. But your mileage may vary.

    •  I worked at a job where it was "suggested" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, earicicle, Muzikal203, KentuckyKat

      that my headwrap was inappropriate.

      I went right to the Human resources office, and called my lawyer.  Nipped that in the bud.

      I remember when Sue Simmons - local reporter here on TV in NY was harshly criticized for wearing an afro. She had to straighten her hair to keep her job.  

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:51:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have an LB who had these long beautiful (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, empathy, Deoliver47, KentuckyKat

        dreds, he just graduated from law school, and I looked at his graduation pictures, and noticed he cut his hair off. It shocked me. The fact that we have to have certain hair to work in places that may not express who we are is disturbing in this modern world.

        How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

        by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:56:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But I think that the gele is less (4+ / 0-)

        associated to a religion than a hijab. Which I know is dumb because the hijab is also pretty cultural but I know a lot of non-Arab muslims who assume that it's some decree of Islam. It doesn't make sense to me personally. But I don't want to get carried away on an old rant.

        I'm not saying that it's impossible to empathize, with having to either alter your appearance to fit into the mainstream. I just think that I could walk around w/ a gele and receive a lot less grief for it than a hijab.

        I wear my hair natural. Surprisingly I haven't gotten in trouble at my internship. It's my parents who don't want my hair to be associated w/ Africans who are giving me the worst grief.

      •  Good for you! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mayim, Deoliver47, Alohilani

        I think too many people are scared to stand up for themselves in such situations...I try to keep the company that I work for aware its inappropriate messages and have had decent response.  There is still work to be done, but I have seen real progress.

  •  Thanks for this lovely and thoughtful diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Your gele is absolutely beautiful.

    Though a war may well be "too stupid," that doesn't prevent its lasting. Stupidity has a knack of getting its way. --Albert Camus

    by GreenMtnState on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:48:58 AM PDT

  •  Look, it isn't personal.... (0+ / 0-)

    It was politics in action.  Hillary went from cacoon to frat kids behind her.  Despite being a citizen, you know he is fighting smears of being an "alien" to America.  So why get touchy about this.  btw, some of the women and outfits in the pictures are quite beautiful.  

    Republicans don't have 60 votes, and it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.

    by dkmich on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:51:45 AM PDT

    •  Well, for me it is personal (5+ / 0-)

      and the personal is often political.  
      again - I really want to address Kossaks - this diary is not addressed to Obama, or any campaign, it's more about how we view diversity - of all kinds.

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:54:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  One of the things I like about Obama is his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deoliver47

        diversity, but that is only a small part of why I would like him to be President.  The day hats, teeth, skin color, sexual orientation begin to matter more to me than policy is the day I need to be banned from voting.

        Republicans don't have 60 votes, and it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.

        by dkmich on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:07:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doesn't that kind of run counter to your (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shanikka, dkmich, earicicle

          original response? If none of that stuff should matter, then what happened on Monday shouldn't have happened for political or any other reason.

          How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

          by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:09:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, I'm talking about me and the diarist, . (0+ / 0-)

            not Obama's campaign.  If I were Obama's campaign, I would be very concerned about the lens the media will use to stage him to the world.   Example.  Colbert or Stewart on the CA gay marriage and Sulu, the Star Trek guy.  Of all the photos of Sulu on set, the media picked one of him "without a shirt wielding sword".  Hmm, gay marriage, Sulu got married, naked man with sword.  

            Republicans don't have 60 votes, and it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.

            by dkmich on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:25:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You don't hide your hair due to religion (0+ / 0-)

        in the belief that seeing a woman's hair is an incitement to commit rape, as the Muslims think. You wear an ancient head protective device.

        •  That is not why Muslim women wear headwraps (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mayim, Deoliver47, Alohilani, KentuckyKat

          they wear them because they feel their hair is something that should only be seen by their husbands. They wear it as a sign of respect, not out of fear of being raped.

          How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

          by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:59:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I wear a headcovering for religious reasons (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          empathy, Deoliver47, Alohilani

          and dress modestly, too......but fear of rape is not any part of why.

          I'm not Muslim but I'm friends with several Muslimahs who cover to various extents (based on a combination of their cultural traditions and personal beleifs) and none of them have ever claimed that as any part of the reason they cover.

          I'm not denying that there aren't a few Muslim clerics who've made statements that way - but all faiths have their fanatics who overinterpret things. But to say that type of fear is the major/only reason the overwhelming majority of Muslim women cover....don't think so. And certainly not in the US or Europe.

          In fact, I'd guess women who wear hijab in the US and Europe are more in danger of some anti-Islamic fanatic assaulting them based on false portrayals of Islam ;-)

  •  E pluribus unum (6+ / 0-)

    Deoliver47

    Thank you so much. Let us not forget that we are
    "Many uniting into one" and when Barack Obama takes the oath of office, he will swear to uphold the constitution, including the first amendement..

    First Amendment – Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause; freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Freedom of religion, means any religion.

    Palante, palante, junto nos vamos palante

    by jerseyRican on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:53:18 AM PDT

    •  You are so right JerseyRican (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      earicicle

      and we need to keep remembering that!

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:56:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, not ANY religion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jerseyRican

      if your religion involves killing people, I'm pretty sure that's not constitutionally protected, and there are some other caveats, but I understood where you were coming from, so I tipped ya :o)

      How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

      by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:10:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  YES any religion (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Deoliver47

        Muzikal (love the name)

        Actually, all religions are protected by the first amendment, in as much as creed and expression of that creed within reason vis-à-vis, speech and by extension manner of attire.

        Just as the first amendment protects your freedom in speech, however, does not allow you to yell fire within a crowded theater when none exits.

        Palante, palante, junto nos vamos palante

        by jerseyRican on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 11:06:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the only limit to my agreement (0+ / 0-)

          is that you are not protected to do something that would be illegal in another context (Native American's can still be charged with violations of criminal drug statutes for possession of peyote) which could become as issue if the free speech is used to incite violence

  •  You look beautiful. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina

    And I love the pictures of these other beautiful women.

    But my problem with women wearing hijab or more constrictive muslim garments comes from the perception that it is based on a very patriarchal religion and society that imposes unequal mandates on men and women. To me, a woman with that kind of clothing is making a statement that they choose to be set apart from our modern free society and adhere to antiquated restrictions or even having them imposed by male relatives.

    I associate hijab with women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia and some other countries. To me it symbolizes violence against women, including murder, and controlling women. It is antithetical to everything I believe in as a feminist. I have a hard time believing that women actually choose clothing that places limitations on them voluntarily, absent a culture of oppression in ways large and small.

    This is also related to my perception that there does not exist in Islam a significant movement for moderation and modernity. I have great hostility for religious orthodoxy of any kind, including in protestant christianity (I was raised in a more moderate branch of mainline protestantism, although even that is not modern enough for me today). At least in protestantism and Judaism one can find recognizeable movements for liberal thought.

    So when I see a woman wearing hijab, I see a woman who rejects my values. It represents a religion that condones violence and murder against LGBT people in many parts of the world.

    Fair or not, that's what I see. I don't have to look very far to see substantial numbers of liberal voices in protestantism and Judaism. And I react with visceral dislike and suspicion to all expressions of religious zealotry, not just Muslims.

    But for me, Islam is more suspect because on the surface, I cannot readily identify any organized movement or body of liberal practice. Hijab represents adherence to outdated practices that supress women. It's their free choice to dress that way, but I don't have to like it. I have never been rude when interacting with women wearing hijab, but I avoid them in public.

    Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

    by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 05:55:31 AM PDT

    •  It's not fair, that's their culture, their way of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      empathy, earicicle, Deoliver47

      life. I'm sure there is plenty of stuff we Americans do that they don't like because it's not a part of their culture. But in a country that is supposedly treating everyone equal, people should NOT be discriminated against because they choose to show their religion.

      How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

      by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:12:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't say they shoud be discriminated against. (0+ / 0-)

        I said I was uncomfortable. I am uncomfortable around many people whose dress or behavior indicates religious zealotry. When I hear people talking using identifiable terminology that suggests they are fundies or republicans, I don't want anything to do with them, either.

        Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

        by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:18:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So you're uncomfortable around Christians (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          empathy, earicicle, Deoliver47

          who wear crosses around their neck, and as earrings, and have those bumper stickers on their cars?

          I am uncomfortable around many people whose dress or behavior indicates religious zealotry

          This is why the diarist was advocating tolerance. People are going to be proud of their religion, and it's really sad that them being proud of their religion makes you uncomfortable. If I sound like I'm judging you I apologize, that is not my intent.  

          Are you an atheist?

          How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

          by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:20:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It depends. (0+ / 0-)

            Religious symbols make me wary, but not automatically suspicious. Probably more like "guilty until proven innocent".

            To borrow language from the military (DADT), I would say that outward manifestations of religious belief produce, for me, a refutable presumption of adherence to beliefs and practices I don't believe in. And the more overt and pronounced the behavior or appearance, the greater my suspicion.

            I know lots of great people with a variety of beliefs who don't buy into everything their more orthodox counterparts believe. There are great traditions of charity and justice in many religions. There are many progressive catholics, in spite of the fascist structure and practices of the Roman Catholic church. There are many liberal protestant churches and even whole denominations. The Reform branch of Judaism is very progressive. Many Bahai followers are liberal, even though the religion is officially anti-gay and the institution is anti-democratic.

            I'm sure there are Muslims who are progressive in their thinking and politics. But it is not readily apparent to me that there is any identifiable liberal movement or body of work within Islam. This may be my perception, but I can't point it out the way I can in Christianity or Judaism.

            I would classify myself as "decline to state". I don't follow any religious belief. I don't claim there is no god, I just don't claim to believe in one.

            Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

            by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:34:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Clarification-- (0+ / 0-)

              I should have reread before posting.

              Religious symbols make me wary, but not automatically suspicious.

              Actually small religious symbols, alone, DO make me suspicious, but not automatically hostile. More overt expressions in behavior and dress make me extremely wary. If a coworker decorates their cubicle with bible verses I steer clear. If people talk like fundies (and I know all the code words), I tend to avoid them.

              Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

              by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:38:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  So is there anything that you feel so (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KentuckyKat

              passionately about that you wear something to express that passion?

              If there is, how would you feel if people automatically looked down on you or were "uncomfortable" around you? You may be the greatest person in the world, but they will never know because they can't get over their preconceived notions of who/what you are.

              How are the Democrats going to protect us from terrorists, if they can't even protect us from Republicans?

              by Muzikal203 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:38:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've had people looking down at me all my life. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                empathy, Deoliver47, KentuckyKat

                I grew up gay in the '60s with undiagnosed ADD. I grew up with people thinking I was odd. Many still do. That's a way of life for me. Being perceived as different is at the core of my life experience.

                My only consideration today is whether something I wear will cause a hassle. I tend not to wear anything that is identifiably gay, even though 99% of the people who know me know that I'm openly gay--personally, politically, and professionally.

                But when I went to the annual gathering of our national amputee organization, I really didn't talk about being gay--it just wasn't important. I would have if it came up, but I was more comfortable flying under the radar.

                Most of the time I wear Utilikilts or shorts, which exposes my hi-tech artificial leg. I just flat-out don't care if people look. If kids (who are wonderfully honest) stare or point it out, I usually smile and say something like "pretty cool, huh!".  But that's my choice.

                Most of the time, I'm past the point of caring. There are situations where I'll give it some thought and make adjustments because of what is appropriate, but my lifestyle is pretty conducive to being myself.

                I don't really feel passionate about expressing my appearance--mostly I do what's comfortable. But then after all the things I've been through, I'm not really passionate about anything. I'm just trying to get by.  

                Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

                by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:56:45 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Hijab does not symbolize religious zealotry (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          empathy, mayim, Muzikal203, Alohilani

          nor does my gele, nor do the Claddagh rings my dear Irish American friends wear, or crucifixes and crosses, or the Muzuzahs outside the doors of my Jewish friends, or the Christmas trees across America.

          These things are cultural.  Are you uncomfortable when you see a woman in a sari?  Or a man in a kilt?

          I'm not denying your discomfort - but perhaps you should examine it a bit more deeply.

          Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:35:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, I wear kilts all the time. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            empathy, Deoliver47

            Mostly American Utilikilts. Living here in San Francisco, it doesn't get much notice. When I'm down in Orange County looking after my parents, they get a decidedly different response. So sometimes down there I don't wear them.

            But even here I see some glances from older people. Of course, they could just as easily be looking at my exposed hi-tech artificial leg.

            I seldom wear clothing that makes a political statement. As a gay man I have in the past.

            But I recognize that people will respond to what I wear. I went to a very nice wedding a few weeks ago, but I decided to go ahead and wear my black Utilikilt with a dressier shirt. But at the funeral for an elderly neighbor at the Jewish funeral home I wore pants and coat and tie (hadn't worn a tie in at least two years).

            Well Dayum! The Fat Lady just sang her tits right off!

            by homogenius on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:45:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What does a burka say? (0+ / 0-)

            It is "just" a cover. Muslims think the sight of a woman uncovered is an incitement to rape. Hair is especially potent in the eyes of men as a rape magnet, according to Islamic lore. In the West, we do not believe in this ancient myth. Personally, I have never seen a woman raped in the street because she fails to wear hijab or burka.

    •  hmmm (6+ / 0-)

      I associate hijab with women not being able to drive in Saudi Arabia and some other countries. To me it symbolizes violence against women, including murder, and controlling women. It is antithetical to everything I believe in as a feminist. I have a hard time believing that women actually choose clothing that places limitations on them voluntarily, absent a culture of oppression in ways large and small.

      I don't think this is the picture at all for muslim women in most of North America.  Women wear their hijabs because it is part of their culture and religion (hide your hair from men), and they WANT to wear them.  They're not suffering and they don't feel oppressed.  I hear you in terms of other aspects of oppression in some muslim cultures, but the hijab isn't part of the problem.  

      [Full disclosure:  There is a show in Canada called "Little Mosque on the Prairie" that my friend's parents record for him.  I watch it when I'm sick of watching the same movie on HBO over and over (I live in Asia).  It's actually a pretty good show.  So anyway, my "perspective" here is coming from a TV show, for what it's worth.  (But I still think I'm right on this one.)]

      McCain economic policy shaped by lobbyist

      by signals on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:26:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have friends who are Sunni, Shia and Sufi's (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      homogenius, empathy, mayim, Alohilani

      I have family members who are Muslim.  
      I have lived in several countries where the majority of people are Muslim.  

      There are over 200 million black African Muslims - many of those women wear not hijab but a gele.

      Islam - was actually far more radical in its treatment of women historically than Europe.  Read the history of Khadijah.

      I reject those fundamentalists who advocate oppression - of any faith, or political groups who do the same - and many oppressive regimes are non-religious.  But to stereotype all Muslims is wrong.

      This country - right here, has never had a female President.  Patriarchy.  Look at Pakistan - who has had a female leader.  

      We have an oppressive male running for office who wants to remove our hard won rights.  Who thinks of women as bitc**s and Cu**s.  He calls himself a Christian.

      Ugh.

      Anthropologists for human diversity; opposing McCain perversity

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:27:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this beautiful (6+ / 0-)

    and very educational diary.

    I guess its strange... So many of my friends wear head wraps for so many reasons. From medical (chemo/albino/balding) to religious to cultural that I guess I don't see anything out of the ordinary.

    And now I want to go read up and learn the "stories" behind all the different types of head coverings.  

    So thanks for teaching me and thanks for inspiring me to learn more :)

  •  Group of women with head covers were my teachers (6+ / 0-)

    from K-8 .  

     They were nuns , Sisters of Mercy,  funny, nobody thought they were oddly dressed or subversive and that was in the 50's?  Oh yeah, maybe the Clan did.

     

    •  Ha! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hoolia, mayim, Deoliver47

      Very subversive women indeed! I loved learning about the nun who was so influential in Tim Russert's life. She named him editor in chief of his Catholic school's elementary school newspaper, to channel his "excess" energies. Only there was no paper, so he had to found it as well! His first job in journalism, and the rest is history. He credited her for career inspiration, and they remained friends the rest of his life. Her eulogy at his services was heartrending.

      No habit anymore, however!

      Sweet are the uses of adversity...[Find] tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It

      by earicicle on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:23:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You don't see many nuns today in full headgear (0+ / 0-)

      and most orders have banished them a long time ago.

  •  While My Interest in Dress / Fashion is Zilch, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deoliver47, Muzikal203, KentuckyKat

    this was really really interesting.

    Thank you.

    By the way - to those commentators / supporters of barack who are afraid of what the lying ass fascists are gonna lie about ----

    we the peeeee-ons either get LEADERS who can get beat the lying ass fascists, OR

    we get the same ol same ol chickenshit sell outs.

    yawn.  

    Me, a 48 year old white guy -- I'm done voting chickenshit sell out.

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:14:43 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful diary, gorgeous pictures... (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing the historical context.

    Now I wish my relationship to headgear was more sophisticated than throwing on a baseball cap when my hair is dirty and I need to run to the post office! ;-)

    Sweet are the uses of adversity...[Find] tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything. -Shakespeare, As You Like It

    by earicicle on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:18:38 AM PDT

  •  cultural ignorance (7+ / 0-)

    I am a white woman over 50 and appreciate cultural differences. I used to grease heads in the 70's when there was much more understanding than today.To me afros were beautiful and braids and dreadlocs to me are beautiful. Many ppl (especially white) think racism has come a long way. I am here to tell them it is going backwards when ppl judge others because of their ignorance. I think cultural differences such as gele's, hijabs, afro's etc. are a beauty that transcends limited thinking.

  •  wonderful diary and thanks (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mayim, Deoliver47, carlosbas

    I followed the link for the how to.
    First I will tell you that genetically I am a WASP.
    But in my life , folks have asked me if I am  Israeli, Puerto Rican, African American, (In fact one little girl asked me if I was "White or just passin'")LOL
    So who knows what is really in the genetic soup.
    So I pulled out my favorite scarf and wrapped.

    Looked odd at first, but then I added a pair of my favorite earrings..BAM!  I look fabulous.  Now the interesting part.

    I am already the neighborhood oddball/hippie around here.
    Which is conflict with the fact that I am hired by my local school district to work with families.  Have to look, "safe".
    So I am a little nervous about going out...I think even at my friends childcare center, where I am the only white person, I am going to...well, we'll see.

    Although at a friends wedding at a yoga retreat in Canada, they will LOVE IT!

    Be the change you want to see in the world.

    by empathy on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:51:57 AM PDT

  •  Geles, hijabs, Sikh turbans, (7+ / 0-)

    wimples, yarmulkes, wigs on Orthodox Jewish women, Mennonite straws and bonnets, Goth fashion-- they're all beautiful, and I don't see how anyone could consider them threatening.

    What I do find threatening: disrespectful religious proselytization denying others' rights and damning them for eternity for persisting in their own beliefs. Those who engage in such bullying are most often those who can't tolerate any of the above markers of cultural difference.  

  •  Add this one of Bomba y Plena in Puerto Rico (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jerseyRican

    See the women wearing their headwraps. See more in http://www.prfdance.org/... and http://www.musicofpuertorico.com/...

    Bomba and Plena are two of Puerto Rico's traditional dance music expressions. It originally came from the African slaves as they adapted their own ancestral music and religious beliefs with the dominant Spanish environment in the 17th century.

    bomba y plena

    "The more of one time and place is one, the more one is of times and places" -- Unamuno

    by carlosbas on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 09:01:21 AM PDT

  •  It is (0+ / 0-)

    my sad duty to inform you that our movement has been bought & paid for.
    It is now a monstrous JTL.

    peace ... out

  •  Keep wearing what you want to wear (0+ / 0-)

    I chalk it up to over zealous people. I still think it is a good idea to park a lady in hijab next to a trucker hat wearing redneck like me. I can even wear a concert T-shirt and grow out the full on Fu Manchu.

    I would truly miss ladies wearing all their crazy headgear. The idea that we all have to look the same is ignorant and stupid.

    After taking several readings, I'm surprised to find my mind is still fairly sound. Willie Nelson

    by cactusflinthead on Fri Jun 20, 2008 at 06:48:43 PM PDT

  •  Deoliver...... (0+ / 0-)

    I found this diary through jotter's list this morning.  Fascinating reading.  I love all the things I learn here.  And you are a lovely as your words ;-)

    Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

    by Cronesense on Sat Jun 21, 2008 at 07:25:52 AM PDT

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