Being First Is Hard
Golf Digest Middle East|June 2019
Being First Is Hard

The game helped me make sense of the world

Noor Ahmed

THEY SAY I’m the first Division I golfer to observe the hijab, a traditional head covering for Muslim women. Every time I step on the course, it’s a reminder I’m different. No other players look or dress like me. But it also reminds me that I’m helping break down stereotypes. My parents emigrated from Egypt and settled in Folsom, Calif. Growing up Muslim American, I was told straight up that people who look like me don’t belong in this country. I’ve heard every racial slur. It got worse when I started wearing the hijab in seventh grade. I think it’s an obligation for women to dress modestly. The attention was hard, but I had watched older cousins go through it. I was so sure of my decision that I had prepared myself mentally for what would follow.

When I was very young and people talked about 9/11, I didn’t know what it was. But when we got to the age when teachers started talking about it, all the students would look at me. My mom explained to me about the perpetrators: “Those people have nothing to do with you, no matter what others say. They in no way, shape or form are related to you, and you don’t have to defend yourself from those who say otherwise.”

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June 2019