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[Saturday Reads] Microaggressions Portrayed in Hilarious Comic Format By A Woman Of Colour In A Hijab

... in Huda Fahmy's "Yes, I'm Hot In This."


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

This is one of the comic books I gifted my daughter last Christmas. I have been seeing it shared by comic-aficionado friends, and I just knew we had to have our own copy.

Yes I’m Hot In This: The Hilarious Truth About Life In A Hijab (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written and Illustrated by Huda Fahmy
Published by Adams Media (2018)
ISBN: 1507209347 (ISBN13: 9781507209349). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

By the time this will be posted, we would have been living here in the United Arab Emirates for a few days shy of one year. There is still much that we need to know and understand about the Arab and the Muslim culture, clearly. As a woman of colour, however, living with my family in countries different from our place of birth for the past 12 years now, this is a comic book that resonated with me on many levels. Case in point can be seen in the image below:

This concerted attempt to have a sense of rootedness, even while embracing the notion of being a global citizen (whatever that means) – is something that we have to navigate every single day. I am Huda Fahmy’s mother, however, in this scenario – as we raise an eighteen year old girl, first in Singapore, and now here in UAE.

The experience of Ramadan is slightly different for us this year – mainly brought about by the stay-at-home / quarantine/ lockdown policy in place. However, a great deal of sensitivity is needed in working with students and colleagues, who usually post their submissions or send emails in the wee hours of the morning.

I especially like the fearless portrayal of microaggressions. This is not unique to Muslim American women – I get this a lot too (except for the showering with the hijab one above), which is why I love the Turnabout below, even if sometimes they only happen in our heads, or illustrated in a published book such as this one:

I enjoyed this comic memoir a lot – as evidenced in so many LOL moments that my husband had to ask what was wrong with me. I appreciated Huda Fahmy’s self-deprecating humour and her ability to transform not just microaggression but overt acts of physical and verbal assault into something that she is able to live with, and even play around with:

There is a lightheartedness to the narrative that belies the actual pain brought about by always being made to feel like an outsider in one’s home:

If you are not familiar yet with this comic book, then you will need to buy it for yourself, for your friends, for your family members. Much of people’s fear (which makes them lash out in aggression) is brought about by ignorance, and sometimes downright stupidity. Combat that by reading as many diverse books that depict representations of voices you will not otherwise have known or even choose to hear. That is how world peace begins (or so I naively claim).

#ReadIntl2020 Update: Huda Fahmy is a person of colour living in the US.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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