Mr. Anthropologist, Sir…

I said ‘no’.

I do not wish to be a sample for the research you are currently conducting on the ‘Muslim population’.


I do not wish to lend myself to your curiosities.

I do not wish that my gestures and responses be part of your data collection for interpretations and formulations.

Please, stop analyzing my facial expressions! And ‘no,’ I’m not angry about your questions. I am angry that you assume I am angry.

If you’d like, you can join my girlfriends and I for coffee. You’ll probably learn a bit about my current interest in graphic novels and my recent love for country music. If you show genuine interest, I’d be glad to say more about it. And, ‘no,’ you cannot take notes. Put that pen away, sir. Quickly, before Ireally do get angry.

Do not study me.

Do not interpret me.

I am not a specimen.

I do not wish to be a sample for anything. If you do learn anything, what you will learn is about me in this particular moment in time and space. I evolve. People evolve. I do not represent two billion people and ‘no’ you cannot make general claims.

Leave Muslim men out of this conversation. Do not try and convince me how they’re ‘hypocritical dirtballs’. And I don’t care to hear your anecdotal evidence to support that. These


black-haired, tawny-skinned…

[men who] sit on the floor [in white robes], leaning forward,

elbow on one raised knee and eat heartily…

They may be mustachio’d, macho, patriarchal,

sexist, egotistical, parochial–

They may, as men may,

think themselves indominable,

being easily manipulated,

–but they’re mine, my

sleek and swarthy, hairy-chested,

curly-headed lovers of the Prophet***

These men are just fine. How are you? Don’t try and turn me against anyone, Mr. Anthropologist. Or I’ll walk away.

Alright, fine. What do you want to know?

My favorite dessert is arroz con leche with extra cinnamon (But I haven’t learned to make it better than mami). Sometimes, I dance in front of the mirror to remind myself that I still got it. I tend to curse a lot and immediately regret it. Oh, and I watch silent black and white films when my roommates are not around. They think it’s dumb, but I don’t care.

What? You want to know why my scarf is purple today? Because my other scarves are in the washer! That’s why. What? No! I did not intend to match my socks. There is no relation!

Why did I just roll up my sleeves? Because it’s getting hot under this microscope light!

Can you stop tilting your head like that and relax those brows? Don’t squint at me!

I can write you faster that you can ever write me, and your head will be spinning for days.


I’ll be damned if I let you write that down!”

***verses were excerpted from Mohja Kahf.


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