It’s that exciting time of the summer…that only happens every four years. The summer Olympics is always fun to watch, with Olympians like Simone Biles and Michael Phelps set to break records and bring home the gold. However, once Olympian in particular is driving conservatives crazy, and that is Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencer from New Jersey.
And what is driving the conservatives crazy? That Muhammad is a Muslim, and that she competes wearing a hijab…the first U.S. Olympic athlete to ever do so.
Muhammad was immediately attracted to fencing for its unique uniform. With its long jackets and pants, fencing offered the young Muslim woman an opportunity to participate in a sport without making any outfit alterations. A few decades later, Muhammad is ranked No. 2 in the U.S. and eighth internationally.
As a Black Muslim woman, Muhammad isn’t just unlikely to vote for Donald Trump, she’s also a potent voice against Islamophobia and racial discrimination.
While the Olympian would prefer to focus only on fencing, the bigotry she’s encountered has pushed her to speak out. “America is all that I know. I feel American down to my bones. For anyone to challenge that idea, that I’m not American or that I don’t belong, it’s frustrating,” Muhammad says. “I want people to see a Muslim woman in hijab and represent the United States this summer. I don’t want people to think that that’s out of the norm.”
Unfortunately, Muhammad will not be bringing home an individual medal, as she was eliminated from the sabre competition in the Round of 16. But her mark on the sport and the Olympics won’t be forgotten any time soon.