a headscarf worn by Muslim women
“Is your last name Muhammad?” she asked, her eyes fixed on me, the only fourth grader in the classroom wearing a
hijab, who happened to be sitting in the front row.
any system of principles or beliefs
When no one knows where you fit into the social order of color and
creed, confusion ensues until order is restored.
take place or happen afterward or as a result
When no one knows where you fit into the social order of color and creed, confusion
ensues until order is restored.
Along the way, I had to learn how to be tough and
tenacious or risk losing the fight before it even started.
someone with an aggressively negative attitude
Proud may seem like a familiar story, as this path I’m on was forged by the men and women who came before me—Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf—athletes who defied the
naysayers and triumphed over mountains of adversity.
a state of misfortune or affliction
Proud may seem like a familiar story, as this path I’m on was forged by the men and women who came before me—Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, John Carlos, Althea Gibson, Serena and Venus Williams, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf—athletes who defied the naysayers and triumphed over mountains of
comfort offered to one who is disappointed or miserable
I hope that, when reading Proud, anyone who has had an opportunity taken from them because of their race, religion, or gender can find
solace in these pages.
seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive
stoic look on Abu’s face made it clear he wasn’t going to change his mind.
native to or confined to a certain region
Newark’s Black residents were protesting the racism and relentless police brutality
endemic to the city.
a public road from one place to another
In the aftermath of the riots, most business owners on Springfield Avenue, the key commercial
thoroughfare, didn’t bother to rebuild and left their stores abandoned and boarded up.
spreading or spread throughout
Drug abuse and crime were
a person excessively concerned about propriety and decorum
Mom said her friends and family always called her a
prude because she refused to party with them.
using language effectively to please or persuade
But as Abu matured, he found himself attracted not to the nationalist
rhetoric used by certain factions of the Nation of Islam, but by the spiritual guidance and the irrefutable guidelines on how to live a God-conscious life.
a dissenting clique
But as Abu matured, he found himself attracted not to the nationalist rhetoric used by certain
factions of the Nation of Islam, but by the spiritual guidance and the irrefutable guidelines on how to live a God-conscious life.
a doctrine that is taught
So, along with a group of other friends, Abu founded a new mosque in East Orange, New Jersey, where traditional Islamic
precepts would be observed.
devout or heartfelt
She seemed so
earnest in her love of the religion and so dedicated to learning everything she could in the class for new converts, my father was immediately attracted to her.
acting as a part that completes another part
Complementary to her understated beauty, my father fell in love with my mother’s enthusiasm for life and her love of children.
The compact three-story home was painted a
stark white with frosty mint-colored shutters draping the second-story windows.
in a state of decay, ruin, or deterioration
Newark was gritty, with a lot of pavement and
a notable achievement
He was only eighteen months older than me and was the brains behind many of our heroic
exploits and the person I most wanted to be like.
full of rough and exuberant animal spirits
I had the quiet determination of my mother, he had the
boisterous nature of Abu and his brothers, but we were best friends.
proper or legitimate
She saw keeping active as a halal, or
kosher, way for us to interact with our friends.
indicate by signs
This did not
bode well for me.
a commonly repeated word or phrase
I promised myself that next time I would do better and I would never give up. And that became my
mantra as an athlete.
be in an agitated emotional state
My arm stung, but I was also
There was usually so much going on in our house after school with five kids running around that most of the time I didn’t even have time to tell my parents about the problems I was having at school, and usually by the time I was safely
ensconced in our family bubble, the problems didn’t seem that bad.
thoroughly acquainted through study or experience
I was quite well
versed in being the odd girl out in every situation.
take delight in
I loved the fact that Damaris was Black like me, smart, and also
reveled in spending her summer learning about cell reproduction and the best way to solve algebraic inequalities.
deliberately and often slyly spiteful or cruel
She had witnessed some of the
cattiness at the mosque that I had to deal with, too.
the art or sport of fighting with swords
That night, my mom went online and discovered that Columbia High School had one of the best
fencing programs in the state, which was a significant honor, because apparently New Jersey had the largest number of high school fencers in the country.
the range of skills in a particular field or occupation
Even though my father was the major sports fan, he told my mom that fencing was not in his
I felt my eyes grow wide, and I snuck a peek at my dad, whose face was
existing as an essential constituent or characteristic
Playing sports had become such an
integral part of our family culture, and I saw no reason to move away from the status quo.
make jokes or witty remarks
quipped. “Are we sure fencing is ‘the thing’?
become like one's environment
I had learned a long time ago how to
assimilate, cover my discomfort, and just keep it moving.