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IBTIHAJ MUHAMMAD: Winning a medal at the Olympics
should have been the proudest moment of my life.
Of the millions of girls across America,
it was me that was representing Team USA.
Many people close to me didn't think I could do it.
And you know what?
Just qualifying was actually my biggest achievement.
There were some who even tried to stop me
from realizing my dreams.
Using their negativity as motivation
has been the soundtrack to my life.
I didn't need their validation.
I became my own cheerleader.
Each knockback became a catalyst to excel.
I told myself every day I was a champion, over
and over and over.
And look at me now.
I could give you the sugar-coated version
of my journey.
But it's important that everyone, especially little
black girls and little Muslim girls, see what I've achieved
and know the truth.
No matter what obstacles are in front of you,
if you believe in yourself, you can make it happen.
I grew up in New Jersey.
Sport has always been a big part of my life.
I played volleyball, track, and softball.
As a whole, my hometown, Maplewood, New Jersey,
was pretty accepting of my family as Muslims.
But I do have these peppered moments throughout my childhood
where I was bullied or made fun of.
But in any of the sports that I've played,
my mom and I have always adjusted the uniforms to fit in
with our religious beliefs, adding
long sleeves underneath my tops or adding
Spandex underneath the shorts.
One day I was driving past this high school with my mom
and she noticed fencers inside dressed in all white.
She said, I'm not sure what sport that is,
but when you get to high school, I want you to try it out.
When I discovered fencing, it was the first time in my life
I had the opportunity to wear the same uniform
as my teammates.
I joined my high school's fencing team
and soon started to compete with other local high schools.
I was often the only black kid in the room
and the first Muslim that people had ever met.
That was an eye opener for me.
I felt like a stranger in my own country.
Most people don't see past the hijab, but I'm not oppressed.
My decision to wear the hijab is my choice,
and I find it empowering.
And I've channeled that pride into another passion,
which is fashion.
I've since started my own clothing company, Louella,
making affordable, fashionable, modest clothes for Millennials.
And really, it's grown from there.
I now split my time between Los Angeles and New York,
and I'm really focused on expanding the company.
I'm known for my hijab, right?
But what most people don't know is
I'm also the first woman of color
in my weapon to represent the United States national team.
Being African-American comes with historical baggage.
You're not smart enough.
You're not beautiful enough.
You yourself aren't enough.
You have to be exceptional, oftentimes, to be accepted.
Even in sport I've been told I'm not
smart enough to think tactically through a fencing match.
Just before the Olympics I arrived at a point in my life
where I refused to change parts of myself
to make other people happy.
I decided I would be unapologetic about who
I was as an African-American woman and as a Muslim woman.
I always felt I had more to give the world than just
as an athlete on the field.
The Obama Administration appointed me
as a Sports Ambassador, which gave me the opportunity
to encourage youth around the world
to get involved in sports.
I spent a long time playing with dolls as a kid.
So you are talking to the Barbie Queen,
but I never had a doll that came with a hijab.
When Barbie asked if they can make a doll in my likeness,
it was a huge breakthrough in my life.
Now girls everywhere, both Muslim and non-Muslim,
can play with dolls who choose to wear a hijab.
I feel so proud of what I've achieved, but I'm not done yet.
If I had allowed other people's misconceptions
to dictate how I felt about myself,
I wouldn't be standing here today.
These aren't limitations.
Everything you need to be successful
is already inside of you.
You just have to take a leap of faith.


US Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad's career in 360° VR | The Female Planet | Episode 4

17 分類 收藏
林宜悉 發佈於 2020 年 3 月 25 日
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