Honoring Women’s History Month

“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” — Dr. Maya Angelou

{Featured photo: “Prelude to Revolution” completed during Women’s History Month & Ramadan, 2024)

Dear Fellow Warrior:

It has been a while again, and for that I am sorry.

I meant to write on International Women’s Day (IWD) and earlier for Women’s History Month.

I missed IWD for the Chronicles of the Warrior KQueen Blog this year, but not in my other spaces.

I am very sorry for that. I have spread myself out thin across various platforms, but to be very honest, this platform has a special place in my heart. A special place, which I hope to continue to build, renovate, and improve to welcome you more here as well.

I think all of my writing efforts across diverse platforms are manageable if I plan it out and systematize my post creation more. Here, I can continue one post a month for now (with occasional special articles here and there). I think that’s a good plan. I recently celebrated my 8th anniversary of starting this blog (Feb 20th!)! I have a reintroduction post I hope to share soon with a few updates.

Further, I will take this entire year to conceptualize and see if I can bring my business idea with this particular creative blogging endeavor to life by the 9th year of starting this blog. Nine is my favorite number so let’s see if it works! I think that is a good timeline as I try to settle on various other projects.

That’s my personal update!

******

So…. A happy (belated) International Women’s Day, and Happy Women’s History Month!

For International Women’s Day this year, this women’s history month, and now Ramadan, I have been in deep mourning, reflection, and connection to our Palestinian sisters.

On International Women’s Day I wrote on my social media platforms, and I also wrote this piece on Medium.

Please check it out!

In this piece for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I summarized just a scratch of the condition for Palestinian women during this brutal assault and genocide in Gaza.

“Palestinian women, especially in the Gaza Strip, are immersed in the worst humanitarian catastrophe, being bombed, maimed, burned, imprisoned, raped, starved. We are hearing from women on the ground in Palestine confirming: “There are no more women in Palestine!” (Source: Democracy Now).

Nearly 9,000 women have been killed in Israeli attacks in five months, with an additional 2,100 missing and presumed dead. (Middle East Eye). Tens of thousands more have suffered brutal injuries from the bombing. 25,000+ total women and children have died. 50,000+ Palestinian Women are pregnant! Many of them have already given birth in the most horrific conditions. C-section births without anesthesia, can you imagine?”

It is a very tragic situation for Palestinians. What makes it more tragic is that all of this could have been preventable.

In the piece, I also note, that the trophy for Wonder Woman this year during Women’s History Month and IWD must go to the Palestinian woman.

I have always stated that Wonder Woman should have been Palestinian.

Here, however, I will call her, my Palestinian sister, the Warrior KQueen.

On International Women’s Day, I remembered something special on a personal level, if that is okay to share with you.

It was precisely on International Women’s Day, about 20 years ago, in college, that I organized a panel at an IWD event through a student organization I founded, Muslim Student Human Rights Commission, with the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, at the University of Minnesota.

The panel included me and three other Muslim sisters. It was called, “What’s up in the Hood.” Sounds a little silly now, but at the time, we pushed for that title, even though some members of the human rights organization, we were collaborating with, thought it was too inappropriate for the setting, which wasn’t surprising.

During the panel, we talked about our experiences wearing the hijab and the “choice” to wear it. I remember crying on the panel. I apologized to the sisters on the panel after that, but they told me that the audience needed to see that pain.

I wore the hijab for about three years. I shared some insights about that in a blog post several years ago.

Two of us on that panel that year ended up taking off our Hijab.

As I noted in my previous blog post, it was a choice to put it on, and a choice to take it off.

On International Women’s Day March 8 and 9 this year, I decided to put the Palestinian Keffiyeh on as a Hijab for Maghrib (sunset prayer), commemorating our Palestinian sisters.

I’d learn about the stories of how Israeli Defense Soldiers tear off the hijabs of our Palestinian sisters in captivity, strip them naked, and assault them. It’s beyond horrifying what they are going through. I recently learned that women have been raped, tortured, and executed at the recent raid of the Al-Shifa hospital, and various other circumstances. Women are enduring a nightmare, and the perpetrators are getting away with the most heinous, egregious crimes.

On March 9th, the next day, I went out with the Palestinian Keffiyeh hijab for the first time in DC. It ended up being a one-woman protest (because I got the days mixed up for the mass protest!). The IWD March on Freedom Plaza in DC was on March 8th. I didn’t realize until my way there. I would have loved to be present there on a Friday, Jumaah is a holy day for Muslims, and the Friday before Ramadan on IWD, and as that “Old Elsa” (I described earlier), with a Keffiyeh Hijab. But I am glad I made up for it by holding my one-woman protest in DC.

It was just me on Freedom plaza, “The Invisible Revolutionary,” in the rain, raising my fist for a Free Palestine. You can see me twirling in the rain here:

You can hear the piano melody, called “Find a Melody,” by Andrea Vanzo. It is such a powerful melody that I personally now have connected to our revolutionary efforts for Palestine. Please attach it to all of your social media posts and efforts for Palestinian liberation, it is so powerful and breathtaking.

I marched that day by myself to the White House, and then made my one-woman protest there as well.

We come out, as an individual, or part of a collective.

We come out, rain or shine. We come out and be there for our brothers and sisters, no matter the conditions.

As I was walking back to the Metro from the White House, I saw a familiar Corner Bakery and suddenly became nostalgic. Seven years ago, I was sitting there at this corner bakery taking a break, charging my phone, during the Standing Rock Protest, outside the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump. It was all fenced up. One of many areas around the National Mall that was fenced up. The Standing Rock Protest was one of many protests during the inauguration.

The Standing Rock one was something special. I recall how we would stop people from entering the Inauguration. We would chant. We would stand in Solidarity.

We would sing Coco Love Alcorn’s powerful song, “The River.”

“Water heal my body, water heal my soul. When I go down down to the water, by the water, I feel whole.”

I will never forget it. And I will be prepared to do it again. If I’m still alive and here in DC. I have not been to this corner bakery since that moment. It was very nostalgic remembering this and on that day, at this historic moment.

May we stand boldly with all of our Indigenous sisters and brothers in America, Palestine, and all around the world, facing oppression, occupation, destruction, bloodshed by evil imperial forces.

******

Twenty years ago I cried on a panel for International Women’s Day with my sisters, and that night, on IWD, I put the Palestinian Keffiyeh on and prayed and cried on the prayer rug.

They called Oct 7th – Israel’s 9/11.

I chose to put the hijab on 30 days before 9/11, as described in the blog post linked above. I have often wondered what my life would be like if I kept wearing the hijab permanently. I thought about it again on International Women’s Day weekend.

For the first time, in a very long time, I had been thinking of returning to the hijab. But, I don’t think I will. The faith is bigger than the piece of cloth for me. There is great comfort in the cover nonetheless.

But I have known for a long time now that the hijab may suit me better, both for the modesty and shyness inside, in my heart, and for covering my awful hair that I never know how to take care of! No matter what I choose, the hijab, as I have written before, will always be a part of me & my history…

And I wore the crown for my Palestinian Sisters. It’s very nostalgic every time I put it on. It felt magical to put it on, with the keffiyeh, at least with the intention to March for Gaza on that day, as the Invisible Revolutionary.

I think this is a very special Jihad for many Muslim women. In high school, I even wrote a poem about it called The Gift of Purity. I once again shed a few tears after reading this poem recently (even though it isn’t particularly a great poem, it came from the heart and I still feel it now).

That line I wrote in High School at the end of my poem about Hijab, “Forever will remain this gift within her.” It means more than a garment. For some of us if not all. And it’s not just about Identity… identifying with your deep love for Allah… it’s deeper, and it’s powerful…

I am blessed to be in a position to choose, while so many are not. I will always stand up for my beautiful hijabi sisters, for my mother and my own sisters, and for all. I will always fight for their right to choose for how a woman dresses, or what happens to our bodies.

And on IWD and Women’s History Month, and this Month of Ramadan, I stand in Solidarity with my Palestinian Sisters and Brothers.

I have felt so alone this month of Ramadan. But when I “took it to the streets,” even if it was just me, I wouldn’t feel so alone. And I wasn’t alone in my heart and mind during International Women’s Day.

And that day on Freedom Plaza, in Washington, DC, I was the Invisible Revolutionary, but I transformed into The Palestinian Warrior KQueen.

Inshallah we’ll see a Free Palestine in our lifetime. You can rip off their Hijabs, for your disgust towards Islam and Muslims, but you can never take away that love for Allah in the hearts. Just like you can try to commit a genocide of our Palestinian brothers and sisters, but you can never take away the Palestinian cause for freedom, which is really a global fight for freedom.

As Nelson Mandela says, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinian people.”

By the way, Happy World Poetry Day as well! I wrote a piece on Medium for World Poetry day as well, March 21st, please check it out. It commemorates Gaza’s martyred poets, and I share some news about some of my art being featured in a beautiful new online (soon to be globetrotting) exhibition called “Letters for Palestinian Childhoods.” You can read the letter on this link.

This Ramadan, I am praying that God will ease the suffering of our dear Palestinian Sisters and Brothers.

Happy Ramadan, and Happy Women’s History Month.

Thank you for reading.

Peace, Solidarity, Warmth, and Blessings,

Your Sister, Dr. Elsa

Warrior KQueen

“She wasn’t looking for a Knight. She was looking for a Sword.” – Atticus

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