“Through oppression I still stand. Through violence I still stand. Through hate I still stand. I will still smile through tears and still love when facing so much hate. My resilience is founded in the realization that no one can take me and shape me into what they want.”
Masuma is 23, an activist, and the Vice President Academic and External for the Dalhousie Student Union in Halifax, NS. She became a household name after Dalhousie University unjustly policed her personal Facebook, where she supported a motion against participating in Canada 150 celebrations, and subjected her to a formal disciplinary process although she had every right to free speech. She received large amounts of online hate and death threats as the dispute went viral. After the incident Masuma told me she’s viewed as “a terrorist. I am viewed as an ungrateful immigrant that should be thankful for them allowing me to coexist in this space.” She continued, “As a young Muslim youth, society tried to fit me into a binary. I was made to believe that my resilience, that my liberation was not one that society wanted or viewed as being worthy of existence.” Justice is what’s most important to Masuma. She can’t go to sleep at night knowing she hasn’t brought even slight justice to a cause she’s passionate about. An example being when Masuma organized a march of thousands of students to protest high tuition fees. When I asked Masuma if she’s experienced islamophobia she told me “I have had professors ask me where I learned English, I have has classmates spit on my hijab during a first-year lecture at my university. I have been called a "rag head", "towel head", and have been told by many people that people like me only view themselves as the property of men…Gendered Islamophobia is a valid intersect that our community needs to start to challenge. There are many intersects that constantly come encounter with Islamophobia. I fear for what will happen in the future if we do not give our youth the tools to survive such ladders of oppression. Why are we forced to kill parts of what makes us who we in order to conform to society?”
What is your favourite hobby or pastime?
“My favourite hobby is writing poetry. In the darkest of times I find light in expressing myself through art. When surrounded by violence the safest place for me is in my thoughts. The only way out of violence for me is to carve my own path of safety through expression.”
What is one thing you know for sure?
“I know that decolonizing the world is the only way out of violence for this world and all humanity.”