Adna Weyrah is a Somali-American from Boston. She is a college senior and has lived in Boston for the better part of her life. She enjoys the simple things life has to offer.
This story is part of “American Muslims”, a photo series created by Carlos Khalil Guzman, a photographer and activist based in NYC. The project is dedicated to capturing the diversity of the Muslim community in the United States. To read more “American Muslims” click here.
As the daughter of Somali immigrants, how has growing up in Boston affected your life and character as a person?
This quaint, and equally invigorating city has had such a huge influence on the person I am today. The exposure to diversity, and the different experiences over the years have allowed me to be more appreciative of living in the United States. I have learned to accept the struggle of coming from an immigrant family and being a young Black Muslim woman. Nonetheless, growing up in a city like Boston has given me an abundance of opportunities, my biggest being the freedom to develop a sense of purpose, and self. I am sure that I would not have had this sort of independence to think liberally back home in the confines of traditionalism. I can freely appreciate art, music, and all the quirky things that make me who I am. I am truly living, learning, and growing everyday in the world’s greatest city.
What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is of Kenya. My family migrated to Kenya when the Somali Civil War began in the early 1990’s. I remember the turmeric colored sand, street vendors, and the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. Although, our home country was in a state of havoc, Kenya was gentle to me. It was always warm, I would spend my early childhood days playing outside from sunrise to sunset, life at that moment was just so innocent, despite the circumstances we were facing.
The media always tries to portray Muslim women as oppressed and unable to take control of their own lives, how have you learned to cope with all these misconceptions?
There are a lot of misconceptions about Muslim women. I find myself constantly defending Islam, and repudiating both the people and the media that deface it. It is a constant battle; there is both fear and anger inside me at times from all the negative views we get from the media. As a young Muslim woman, I am a living representation of Islam, and I try to teach people the beauty Islam holds whenever possible, even as the world portrays us differently.
Wearing my scarf is a personal choice, not a choice made by my family, or anyone else. Wearing my scarf makes me identifiable in both a negative and positive light, some people see it as oppressive, and others find beauty in its modesty.
How would you like to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as a kind person, I make it a mission to be kind to others. Whether it is excessively over-thanking someone who held the door open for me, or serving my community. I think being a patient, and kind person makes me happier than most people, because it is honestly genuine. I, find pure happiness when I help others. I don’t need reciprocation; I just want people to feel great.