But Seriously... Do You Need to Ask Why?

July 27, 2009
By maggie ross BRONZE, Gardena, California
maggie ross BRONZE, Gardena, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Struggling to grow comfortable and confident as Magda,a brown, absurdly tall and thin, flat chested child of Arab Jew descent in North Carolina was tough, to say the least. I am outing myself as Magda for those who were not witness to my Uber Anglo teachers botching my name year after year. I cringe as I recall anxiously awaiting roll call, hoping to invisibly eek out, "here", before it could be butchered/broadcast/mocked. Claiming MAGDA, 41 years and a legal name change later, is emancipation of sorts. Maybe like the "blacks" claiming the N-word. It honestly wounded me each time it was spoken, even when pronounced correctly. To my good fortune, I credit the fact that I was called Maggie from an early age. That is, outside of class attendance and antagonizing by peers or family.

I was born Magda to Nabil with an Arabic accent and Judith, a New York Jew. Having Jilan as my sibling did not make survival in North Carolina any less scary. Bible Belt and Home to the Jennifers, Michelles, Kims, the Smiths,the Jones,the Thompsons. Enter Magda; brown and heathen, raised with parents who preferred fasting and eating lamb for Ramadan to Christmas Stockings or Easter Baskets. Magda and Jilan(7 years apart) born to Nabil and Judith who fought commonly and publicly. Magda with unfortunate hair and clothing and a pervasive uneasiness both in and away from "home".


IJoNC, a fantasy organization with a membership of one would best describe my most formative experience. Islamic Jews of North Carolina. I am stoked to commence and preside over the long overdue and bona fide IJoNC community. Small in number, (because we too, are discriminating) we will be safely distanced from my town, where ideally(if not essentially) one is black (as they say) if not white, and also Christian. No need to boast shirts with proud letters as in a sorority or fraternity. The undeniable markings of a true IJoNC member are a large-ish nose, slumped shoulders, cowlicks that misbehave in the humidity, fear of eye contact, and a patent look of uncertainty.

My activity as the sole member of IJoNC has shaped who I am, what I have achieved and been through, as well as all that I have and look forward to. Perhaps you too, would like to become an honorary IJoNC member or sponsor. ..or maybe you already are and just didn't know it.

The author's comments:
Taking full ownership of all that you are and can be is the greatest thing one can do. Sitting around wishing things could be different,I promise you, is wholly unproductive and depressing and makes people want to avoid you. I realize people have sruvived far worse. I just wished I would have had a book or an article or any sort of connection to someone who felt similarly.

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