In a recent TikTok Live with Muslim Girl, SZA opened up about her experiences growing up Muslim and revealed that after 9/11, she was too scared to wear a hijab.
When SZA was asked about growing up with a Muslim father, she didn’t start to see hate until after the 9/11 terror attacks on New York City. Before that, her father attended mosque, and she went to a Muslim prep school in Newark, New Jersey. SZA felt insulated inside her bubble.
“The experience was very microcosmic, very insulated, very much like you don’t know that no one else is practicing the same thing if you’re Black and in the suburbs because you’re kind of in your bubble,” she told the outlet. “I guess I didn’t realize that things were weird and awkward until I got a lot older.”
The singer also revealed that up until 9/11, or when she was about 11-years-old, she wore a hijab. Due to the increased Islamaphobia following the terrorist attacks, SZA said she was too afraid to cover up.
“I regret so much—like, being afraid or caring what people said about me, or in high school feeling like if I didn’t cover all the time that I can’t start covering some of the time,” SZA said. “And I did start covering again in high school, and then they were like, ‘What is this? You don’t live your life properly. You’re not really Muslim. Shut up.’ I always let somebody dictate how I was.”
When asked if she’s been on the receiving end of any hate, SZA says she hasn’t in a really long time because she no longer covers up. “I’m not being hyper-observant, and I think that I want to be able to use whatever privilege to educate them so that they don’t do it to other people because it’s disgusting and really ignorant,” she said. Still, she does not feel grateful that she has escaped hate and wants to meet with people who are on the receiving end of it daily.
The songstress also opened up about the desire she still has to wear a hijab, saying she recently expressed to her manager, Punch, that she would like to cover up.
“I remember the other day even talking to Punch, my manager, and being like, ‘Oh, I want to wear a hijab. I wonder if I could,’” SZA revealed. “We played Malaysia and Indonesia, and it was really comforting to be able to cover up for those shows. I didn’t feel like anybody would judge me or was going to say that I was being fake. It was just part of the custom, where I’m amongst my own people, and they just accepted me as whatever.”