Singer SZA stopped wearing hijab ‘after 9/11 because I was so scared’

She revealed she got chased home by children from school who tried to snatch her hijab when she younger

Ellie Abraham
Sunday 18 April 2021 19:09 BST
(Getty Images for Something in th)

New Jersey singer SZA has revealed that she was afraid to wear a hijab after 9/11because of Islamophobia.

The 30-year-old grew up in a Muslim household in a predominantly white area of New Jersey and has opened up about the negative experiences that came with it.

Speaking to Muslim Girl in a TikTok Live, the singer, whose real name is Solána Rowe, said she stopped covering her hair after the 2001 terror attack in New York City.

SZA said: “I stopped covering after 9/11 because I was so scared. This was like elementary school, middle school. I regret so much—like, being afraid or caring what people said about me.”

Her 2017 debut studio album Ctrl captured the zeitgeist for many young black and brown women. She described her family’s experiences of Islamophobia.

She said: “On a direct scale, someone threw a brick in my dad’s mosque. And that was very weird. Getting chased home by children at school and getting my hijab snatched is also weird.”

The Good Days singer said she is shocked by a lot of the disinformation and Islamophobia around the Muslim faith, which lead some to “randomly deciding that I’m oppressed because I’m covering my hair. I’m not oppressed”.

SZA covered her hair while performing in Malaysia and Indonesia and said she enjoyed knowing she wasn’t going to be judged, saying: “it was really comforting to be able to cover up for those shows.”

Past experiences have not always been so positive and she remembered when in high school she “always let somebody dictate” whether or not she wore a hijab.

Speaking about the time, she said: “I did start covering again in high school, and then they were like, “What is this? You don’t live your life properly. You’re not really Muslim. Shut up.” I always let somebody dictate how I was.”

SZA said she thinks about covering again “all the time”.

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