Don't let them steal your happiness.
On April 20, Ismaa'eel attended the Islamic Circle of North America Convention when she came face-to-face with a slew of hatemongers. American Muslims of all walks of life came to Washington D.C. for a weekend to partake in the workshops, panels and other cultural activities put on by the convention.
Outside, several anti-Muslim demonstrators tried their darndest to intimidate attendees.
"Children were scared, teens were upset," the 24-year-old told Blavity as part of the "Life After Going Viral" video series. "But most people walked by and kind of ignored them as if they weren't there."
Ismaa’eel wanted them to see she was happy and unfazed by their hate. So, she decided to stand up to them with a bright smile on her face. She asked her friend to snap a series of photos depicting her smiling in the face of vitriol.
On April 21st I smiled in the face of bigotry and walked away feeling the greatest form of accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/Dbrtk7MDAw
— شيماء (@ShaymaaDarling) April 23, 2019
"I was not going to walk away from them [nor] be upset because of their presence," she said. " I didn't expect the whole world to see that, but that's kinda what happened."
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More than 480,000 people on Instagram liked the photo where she was squatting down and chucking deuces. Nearly 90,000 people retweeted the series of three photos from the convention.
However, the now-internet-famous Muslimah has trolled anti-Muslim protesters before. She told Blavity she took a photo similar to her viral image in 2017. When a few Islamophobes descended on her campus, she snapped a photo of herself squatting down pointing at the camera mocking their cause.
Ismaa’eel realizes the world is threatened by her. She is Black, a Muslim and a woman in a society where all three are under constant attack.
"Even within the Muslim community, I have to find my place," she said referring to anti-Blackness in some Islamic circles.
Since going viral, the young woman plans to continue being true to herself and rebel against hate while wearing the biggest smile possible.
Watch the full interview above.
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