Tag Archives: passing

On Ambiguity

Preface: This has taken me nearly two semesters to write. I had the idea to write about my ambiguity after the Trump protest in November. There was a moment where someone said “Use your white privilege and sit down with us,” when several students began blocking the intersection between Church and Broad St. That moment really defined my constant conflict with my ambiguity. So there’s that.

Feta cheese.

This is the nickname my family gave me, and as one of the three pale women on my mother’s side, whenever I go back home, I am constantly reminded of my pale-ness. Weirdly enough, I was always told that I was, technically, more beautiful for looking white, for looking more European, and more so, American. After hacking off my eyebrows at the ripe old age of twelve, I virtually erased all signs of my “Turkish-ness”. If anything, people will hit me with the Are you Italian? Well, what about Greek? And when I finally cut off the string of European (never Middle Eastern) guesses, I always get: Are you sure you’re Turkish? And to be completely honest, I get it. Unless you’ve had your fair share of Turkish genetics, I could pass as European. I have a sort of racial ambiguity.

Let’s be honest here, I would never be targeted in the street or at the airport for “looking Muslim.” No one would try to tell me I am “oppressed” for my religion because I am not a hijabi. Chances are, the average Joe on the street would never guess I’m Muslim. My ambiguity has given me a certain amount of privilege out in the world, but it’s never something I really considered until I came to Wesleyan. And the simple reason for that was because I never had to think of my ambiguity and how that plays a role both in my identity and my activism from this point on.

So, let’s break this up.