Run Your World spoke with a woman within the Muslim community about the challenges she faces in the workplace. We asked Tahera Rahman to write a guest post about her religious views and how that has affected her as a Muslim woman trying to find a job. Here is what she had to say:
“My reporting reels started turning after 9/11.
I was in second grade and, like my fellow Americans, I can recall exactly what I was doing when that first plane struck the twin towers.
But unlike most of my fellow Americans, I can also recall all the incidents after that tragedy that continued to press upon me and other Muslim Americans.
As I saw, heard and felt the anger of many Americans toward Muslims, I started wondering how I could turn my sense of helplessness into helpfulness.
I started dabbling in writing and realized, over the years, that journalism might be the right fit for me. I thought: How powerful would it be if I could just be an American journalist who creates and shares awesome stories and who just so happens to be a Muslim?
For that reason, I’ve never seen my hijab as an obstacle but rather a driving force. It has created and defined my dream. It also makes my journey towards becoming a TV reporter harder, but I think it’ll also make the effects that much greater.
As an intern at CBS Evening News, one of my producers once asked me: If I had been offered my dream job—perhaps as a national reporter for CNN—but they asked me to stop wearing my hijab, would I do it?
I thought about it, then told him it just didn’t make sense to me. Because being a hijabi reporter on TV is not about me, it’s about shaping perceptions. It’s about opening up a larger conversation about race and religion in a nation where people who look like me now feel afraid to go grocery shopping or walk to the mosque or even go to school.
I wear the hijab because I believe it’s a commandment of modesty and identity from God. I do it to feel closer to Him. And although I haven’t accomplished my goal yet of being on air, this piece of cloth has already opened up so many conversations—both in an out of the newsroom.
As a producer now for CBS 4 here in the Quad Cities, I’ve been able to share more than just what hijab means, but also what it means to be Muslim in America today—the good, the bad and the ugly parts of it. And I think that’s important context for every newsroom to know as we release stories into the world that people ultimately depend on to mold their opinions and appeal to our politicians.
It’s hard to break the status quo. It really is. And if you want to do it for fame or fortune, I think your defeats will pile up and become burdens. They’ll weigh you down and you’ll eventually collapse from its weight. But if you do it because you truly think you have something small to offer the world, a voice that might make it a slightly better place… I think that fuel will take your dreams a long way.