Suzi is a Muslim American living in Hoover. She moved from Palestine when she was 16 and attended Homewood High School. She did her undergraduate studies at UAB, and now she is working as a babysitter and a sales associate to earn money towards buying a house with her husband, Kody, who is originally from Botswana. He is studying to get a degree in medicine.
Can you tell me what your childhood was like?
I grew up in Palestine. People tell me that growing up in the Middle East must have been very hard, but I had a happy childhood. I know in some parts of Palestine, life is very hard, but it was not for me. I was, and still am, very close to my family. I think my childhood was just like everyone else's. I had some happy moments, some sad, but overall, it was good.
Who is your biggest source of inspiration?
My husband inspires me everyday. He is one of my greatest blessings from God. He inspires me in his faith and his kindness towards others.
How would you describe your style?
My clothes are very important to me, and I want them to show who I am. I like wearing anything bright and colorful. I am very loud, and my style shows that. I think it is so cute when girls wear dresses and skirts, but I always wear pants for my religion. I wear very modest and tasteful clothes. I always do very colorful eye makeup. But the first thing most people notice about my style is my hijab.
What stereotypes do people make about you because of your hijab?
They think that I am oppressed or that I have been forced to wear it. I'm not! I love God, and I want to show it. I am not ashamed of that. When I was younger, before I wore a hijab, I was scared to tell people that I am a Muslim, because I was ashamed. Now I am older, and I am proud of being a Muslim.
Do you feel like you have been discriminated against because of your religion?
A lot of people think that all Muslims are terrorists. People say to my face, in grocery stores and gas stations, "you're a murderer"... hey man I'm only 22. I've never killed anybody! I don't want to hurt anyone. Also, people say to me "go back to your country" as if this isn't my country. I am a Muslim, a Palestinian, and an American.
Have you ever felt physically in danger because of your religion?
Absolutely. Sometimes, when people say those kind of remarks to me, I don't know if they are going to act on their hate. It's really scary.
How do you feel when you read about terrorism in the news?
It is terrible. I can't believe that people could think that I support Muslim terrorists, just because I am a Muslim. I don't support any terrorists, Muslim or not. There needs to be less violence and hatred in the world.
How has your faith shaped you?
For me, Islam has taught me how to be more kind and devout. A lot of people think that Islam is a violent religion, but I was never taught that. We are a very peaceful people. When my Christian friends tell me about their religion, I notice there is a lot in common. Christianity and Islam say a lot of the same things; people ignore that. The Quran says to have faith in God, give money to the poor, do no harm to yourself or others, and love everybody. What is so wrong about that?
This blog is the collective voice of every person involved in the Global Initiative. Just as the globe hosts billions of disparate voices, we hope this space will embody and embrace the same diversity.