Here is the full transcript of Syrian-American international poet Amal Kassir’s TEDx Talk presentation: The Muslim on the Airplane at TEDxMileHighWomen conference. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: The Muslim on the airplane by Amal Kassir at TEDxMileHighWomen
Whenever I travel, I carry a little metal box of Altoids mints because after a four-hour 7 AM flight, everyone has bad breath, so almost anyone is willing to take the mint from the Muslim on the airplane.
And I know I’ve been successful when my neighbor turns and asks, “So, what’s your name?”
You see, even if there was an elephant in the room, I’m still the elephant in the room. Yeah! When an elephant offers you mints on an airplane, I’m fully aware that it’s not always easy to accept, so when the courageously curious do pop the what’s-your-name question, I try to make it worth their while.
My name is Amal. It means ‘hope’ in Arabic. Most days my name is waitress at my family’s Damascus restaurant, full-time university student and then some, pre-law, world traveler, 11 countries. My name is I’ve performed poetry in eight of those countries.
International spoken word poet, unapologetic Muslim woman. Syrian, American, hijabi, activist, social justice advocate. My name is writer, teacher, Colorado-born Mile High baby.
But at the airport, my name is random search. And on the street, it’s terrorist, sand nigger, raghead, oppressed, and on the news, it’s ISIS, jihadi, suspect, radical. My name is, “Could your Muslim neighbor be an extremist?”