Culture

Latinos Are Here For Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, The Muslim Woman Who Smiled For Islamophobic Protestors

If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve met Shaymaa Ismaa’eel, a 24-year-old woman, whose photos of her smiling in front of homophobic islamophobic protesters went viral. In the three days since she her tweet, the post has had over 310,000 likes and 85,000 retweet–the vast majority of which are positive and supportive.

Here’s the scoop and all the ways Latinos are showing their support.

“On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment.”

@shaymaadarling / Twitter

That’s it. That’s the caption for her viral post and it’s inspiring people everywhere.

Shaymaa was visiting Washington D.C. for the Islamic Circle of North America (INCA)’s annual convention.

@shaymaadarling / Twitter

The nonprofit organization is here to build a community for Muslim-Americans. Shaymaa remembers similar anti-Islam protesters were at the convention two years ago. When she first saw them, she was shocked, and later when she wanted to take a photo in front of them, they were gone.

But it’s 2019 and the Islamophobes are out of hiding questioning if she really did the thing.

@human_cookies / Twitter

Not only did Shaymaa get the chance to take this photo at this year’s convention, but haters don’t feel she’s trustworthy enough to believe the photos are real. This is the most polite hater we could find.

This led Shaymaa to post a follow up of her original tweet.

@shaymaadarling / Twitter

The ensuing thread is filled with people tweeting all caps #FAKENEWS. But we’re not going to talk about the very vocal minority of haters. We are here to talk about the people showing this young woman support and love.

Shaymaa spends her day job at a school working with children on the autism spectrum.

@shaymaadarling / Instagram

However, on weekends, she’s giving us lewks and bravery like no other. She told Teen Vogue, “Us youth, we need to actually see people who aren’t so apologetic, who aren’t so scared. It is hard to be Muslim in this day and time.”

She also let everyone know that she has to be confident in herself because her identity is visible at all time.

@shaymaadarling / Twitter

“I’m an African-American woman, so I can’t be white passing,” she tells Teen Vogue, “even if I take my hijab off — I still have struggles. You have to know your strength. A lot of youth need to understand that and just think about that a little bit.”

Latino Twitter came out strong for her story.

@CommunityUnity / Twitter

According to a 2007 report from Voice of America, the Latino-Muslim community is between 40,000 and 200,000 in the U.S. alone. Being Latino means being diverse and intersectional because we have an intersection of all faiths, all skin tones, and all genders in our community, and we get to stand with each other, for each other.

Folks are calling her an American hero.

@SergioAntonio / Twitter

Shaymaa told Teen Vogue that she knew “talking to someone like that is talking to a brick wall. You kind of can’t really do anything to combat it.”

It was also Easter Sunday the day the protesters arrived, which just adds layers to this story.

@CavScoutVeteran / Twitter

“We were wrapping up the second day of the convention and the first thing I saw was there they are,” Shaymaa tells Teen Vogue. “I showed my friend and she was like, ‘It’s Sunday. It’s Easter. Don’t they have something better to do?’ I was like, ‘Clearly, they need something from us.’”

“Kindness is a mark of faith. Those who aren’t kind have no faith.”

@Emma_Aurora_ / Twitter

She posted the same photo on Instagram with the above caption, and that also went viral. She has over 377,000 likes on the Instagram post proving that people want to see more love in this world.

“They were like, ‘Oh, yeah, you need to cover your face, too.’”

@its_carlos801 / Twitter

As she was walking away from taking the photo, she tells Teen Vogue that the protesters started to make fun of her. “And then someone was like, ‘You know it’s a cult when everyone’s walking around in pajamas.’ I was like, ‘Hmm, is he saying that because I’m wearing loose pants?’ I love sarcasm, so I was like, ‘Thank you for that.’”

The tables have turned because The Internet is now making fun of the protesters.

@adam_casto / Twitter

“I did not know that JC Penney sells draperies in denim,” writes one user. ????Several people started posting timed selfies of them mimicking that same posture.

Other folks thought he looked familiar.

@freemedusa / Twitter

Some were saying he’s a Westboro Baptist Church protester. Others thought he looked like their sleep paralysis demon.

Is sleep paralysis contagious?

@rosie_rosella / Twitter

Have you ever noticed that the people who hold those specific protest signs always look the same? Is it just one group that travels around the country protesting? Or do all Christian protest extremist look the same?

Lizy Rodriguez was over here revving up the inner mami in her.

@lizyrodriguezzz / Twitter

I mean… if rejoicing in Jesus’ resurrection looks like you making fun of a black woman in a hijab then you might be practicing a different religion than you think. Preach, Lizy.

Then there’s the obvious solution to this kind of bigotry.

@mapofsoulnicole / Twitter

Most Churches, Mosques, and Temples often work together to create multi-faith events. Islamophobia, like anti-Semitism, works off an assumption that an entire religion is a threat. That’s fake news.

Just like radical Islam makes a mockery out of the faith, this version of radical Christianity does the same.

@mzxzzz / Twitter

So like, do they see how they’re doing the exact same thing that they’re protesting against? ????

Islamophobia is a serious threat to our Muslim-American brothers and sisters.

@joepequenotv / Twitter

Hate crimes have escalated since Trump ran his campaign and enacted his Muslim Ban. Many Twitter user were scared for her–to simply be an African American woman in a hijab smiling.

“I wanted them to see the smile on my face, and see how happy I was to be me and walk around being a Muslim woman.”

@jftaveira1993 / Twitter

Ultimately, Shaymaa’s message shines brighter than any blemish of bigotry. She told The Guardian, “I wanted to show them that we are going to remain kind and unapologetic, and continue to spread love in the face of bigotry.”

And for all her positivity and freedom to just be, we thank you, Shaymaa.

@shaymaadarling / Twitter

So many of us can relate to kissing our loved out in front of homophobic protesters, smiling your brown face at the MAGA hat guy and overall just doing as our mama taught us by “killing with kindness”. Shaymaa, you are a shining, beautiful example of what it means to be American. Gracias.

READ: Latino Muslims Are Talking About Their Experience At The Intersection Of Latino And Muslim

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A California Couple Who Met In Middle School Died Hours Apart From Eachother At Age 67 From COVID-19

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A California Couple Who Met In Middle School Died Hours Apart From Eachother At Age 67 From COVID-19

As the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, families and friends continue to live divided lives. Hope has come in the form of new vaccines and their distribution across the globe, however, the tragedies continue.

Now, a San Diego family, whose patriarchs weren’t able to receive vaccines, is suffering deeply.

Juan and Blanca Rodriguez passed away from COVID this past week within hours of saying their last goodbyes on Zoom.

The middle school sweethearts met in the seventh grade spent decades together as a married couple until passing away at the age of sixty-seven. Juan and Blanca met in the seventh grade, were married five years later, and went onto have four children and six grandchildren.

“He saw my mom in homeroom in seventh grade, and he said from the moment he saw her, he knew he was going to marry her,” the couple’s daughter Cynthia Rodriguez explained in an interview to NBC12

This past January, Juan and Blanca were retired and living with one of their children when everyone in the family contracted COVID-19.

Their illnesses came as a surprise to the family particularly because they had been extremely cautious.

“We quarantined. We didn’t go out. We didn’t even go to stores. We would order food delivery,” the couple’s other daughter Blanca Velazquez explained.

While the family eventually recovered, on Feb. 1 Juan and Blanca were rushed to the hospital. The couple was sent to two separate facilities and communicated with their family through Zoom.

Over the weekend, after Juan’s condition continued to worsen his family said virtual goodbyes.

“My mom was on the Zoom call, and she told my dad that she was happy that she was able to share her life with him, and she thanked him for being the love of her life,” explained Velazquez.

Juana and Blanca’s son Juan Rodriguez Jr. revealed on a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral expenses that not long after Blanca’s call with Juan, the family received a call from Blanca “saying she was not doing well and they had to put her on a ventilator as well. The Dr. called a few hours later and said she didn’t respond to the ventilator and there was nothing else they could do for her.”

Blanca passed away three hours after her call with her family on Feb. 8 at 12:30 a.m. Later, Juan died at 4:18 a.m.

“Losing one parent is bad enough, but losing them both on the same day has been both devastating and heartbreaking. We have peace in knowing that since they were always together in life, they could not be apart in death as well,” Juan Jr. wrote. “He couldn’t live without her, so, he just let go. It’s like an epic love story, that they went together in the same day. They were the best parents,” Velazquez told NBC12.

As of Thursday afternoon, the family’s GoFundMe raised $16,897 toward its $25,000 goal.

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Dating 101: The Expert’s Guide on How to Find Love in 2021

relationships

Dating 101: The Expert’s Guide on How to Find Love in 2021

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, which means that if you’re single, you might be taking a good, hard look at the state of your love life. If, like many of us, you’ve spent the past year focusing on your own growth and self-development, then you might be ready to jump back into the dating pool. 

But if you feel off your game or unsure of how to proceed in this brand new, post-COVID world of dating, fear not! We’ve employed the help of Jorge Lozano H. to give us the do’s and don’ts of finding love in 2021.

Jorge Lozano H. is a best-selling author, speaker, and dating expert who knows exactly how challenging this new dating scene is–but he also knows how fun it can be. Lozano shared his tips and tricks with us on how to attract “the one” in 2021. Check out his advice below!

1. Spend More Time on Dating Apps

We know, we know. There are about a million-and-one dating apps out there. But it’s a simple fact that you can’t find something if you’re not looking for it. Download one or two dating apps and commit to spending time and effort on finding a viable match (so, no mindless swiping).

If you feel like the sheer number of options is too overwhelming, try out a dating app that narrows down the dating pool by common interests–like Chispa, the dating app specifically made for millenial Latinos. 

2. Confidence is Key

It’s tempting to approach every date with a pessimistic mindset. Sure, there’s “plenty of fish in the sea,” but there’s also plenty of duds in the sea as well. Lozano suggest looking on the bright side by trying out positive affirmations.

“Go into every virtual date with a positive mindset by repeating these eight words when you need a confidence boost: ‘I want, I can, and I deserve it,'” he says.

3. Build meaningful connections

Lozano suggests creating “emotional anchors” during your conversation with you date in order to make meaningful, memorable connections. Lozano suggests bonding over common interests like similar tastes in music or the favorite Banderas you have in common.

4. Don’t be a “bad texter”

Even if a potential partner is head-over-heels for you, that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a bad texter (i.e. giving low-effort, one-word responses). “Elaborate, ask questions and show interest so your potential novio/a will keep you in mind at all times,” says Lozano.

5. Flirt with finesse

If you’re wondering why none of your matches are graduating to the next step, like a FaceTime date or a virtual date, it might be because you’re not giving them much to work with. “Coquetear adds an extra spice to any conversation,” says Lozano. He suggests using three universally-beloved topics to keep the convo going: food, pets, and (pre-Covid) travel of course.

Now that you’re armed with Lozano’s great advice, you’re ready to take on the 2021 dating scene with renewed confidence. Now head out there and find your soulmate!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com