By Guest Contributor Marwa Hamad
I’ll admit it: I am a 22 year old part-time music journalist and full-time social-justice activist who gets relentlessly mocked on a daily basis for my immense and unwavering love for a little boy band sensation known as One Direction. If the glossy poster plastered by my work station of five UK boys grinning goofily at me is any indication, my loyalty as an over-aged fan of these kids is a truth that I’ve come to embrace.
The biggest chunk of this appreciation can be attributed to the fact that, for the first time in a long time, I actually feel represented in popular culture as an Arab, Muslim, and “brown” woman. Zayn Malik, the only Muslim person of colour in the band, is someone I can look to and think, you and I might have a thing or two in common. From reading his bandmates’ tweets about taking him out to Eid dinner, to seeing the Arabic script inked across the 19-year-old’s collarbone, I’ve found somewhat of a happy place in Zayn’s presence within the white-dominated world of mainstream pop music. I am now able to watch TV, listen to the radio, and open magazines to find something I can relate to for a change.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, or at least be horrendously tainted by the obvious fact that the inclusion of a Muslim person of colour in a boy band doesn’t mean the exclusion of racist undertones in the way that the media, the public, and his management choose to pigeonhole him.