Hoodies, Hijab and Homicide

32 year-old mother Shaima Alawadi, beaten with a tire iron in her San Diego home, died today. A note in her home read, “Go back to your country, terrorist.”


There are times when I wonder how the human race got so completely fucked up.

I know historians say we’ve always been fucked up, and that we’ve always hated “others”. My husband and I were talking about Trayvon today in the car, still mourning his death, still trying to figure out how such a “civilized” culture can murder its young and have a law to protect the killer.

And then I got home and read about Shaima. Today, not far from me in Southern California, Shaima Alawadi died after being beaten to death with a tire iron.

According to The Washington Post, a note in her home read, “go back to your country, terrorist.”

Is it a coincidence that Alawadi wears traditional head cover, a sign of modesty and piety, called hijab

It is too painful to imagine Shaima’s last moments. She was 32, just a few years younger than me, and a married mother just as I am. She was beaten in the morning on Wednesday after her husband left to take their children to school.

We can’t help but draw parallels to Trayvon Martin’s death and Geraldo Rivera‘s incredibly controversial (and rightly so) claim that the 17 year-old would still be alive were he not wearing a hoodie.

It may not have been Shaima’s hijab that made her a target… or maybe it was. Either way, in both cases, it is clear this country needs a shaking-up, a rebooting, a long hard look in the mirror at itself for allowing the hate against “others” to claim the life of yet another innocent. The people who deny that Trayvon’s death was race-based, or a hate crime, cannot deny that Mrs. Alawadi’s death was indeed a hate crime at its very core.

And yet the words feel very hollow, don’t they? We may ride the media blitz of Trayvon Martin and Shaima Alawadi, we may all claim to want to stop racism, but in the end, what will each of us do to end it?


Photo courtesy of haemengine

About Joanna Schroeder

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and editor with a special focus in issues facing raising boys and gender in the media. Her work has appeared on Redbook, Yahoo!, xoJane, MariaShriver.com, TIME.com, and more. She and her husband are outdoor sports enthusiasts raising very active sons. She is currently co-editing a book of essays for boys and young men with author and advocate Jeff Perera. Follow her shenanigans on Twitter.


  1. While it’s nice to have pleasant visions of a world without prejudice, stereotyping and hate, and it is important to take whatever measures are necessary to reduce the antisocial behaviors emanating from those negative cognitive patterns, it behooves one to stay cognizant of conditions in the real world. Decisions to wear a hoodie or a hijab may be lofty (to maintain a sense of morality and modesty), base (to evoke a gangsta image), or utilitarian (to stay warm and to keep the rain off of one’s head), Nonetheless, the decisions have consequences. Until a utopian state is hammered into shape by “million hoodie marches”, legislation or consciousness raising, practical advice such as Geraldo Rivera gave to his son is commendable and not an endorsement of shootings and beatings of those symbolizing the construct of “the Other”. The criticism, demonizing, and hateful, demeaning caricatures that have been heaped upon Geraldo demonstrate the irrational and destructive in each of us and show how far away utopia is.

  2. Lian Rohima says:

    hmmm, i am wearing hijab in my daily life.. and reading this story makes me feel this world is going crazy…

  3. Island gal says:

    “go back to your country terrorists” can easily be quoted by the native Americans and what they were put through …. At some point enough is enough …. We’re all human beings no one person is better than the other as we all have red blood running through our veins … We all shit and piss when needed and we all have to die so this hate crime not only left children without a mother … A husband without a wife and another sad day in America

  4. MichelleG says:

    🙁 🙁 🙁 Humans at their worst. It’s sad that some of us are no better off than animals in the Animal Kingdom; hierarchy and food chain. Hunt or be killed? Paranoia and hate, or survival?

    I think we can measure the level of humanism by whether we are moving towards that Animal Kingdom model, or away; embracing a spiritual model that transcends hate and evils, and allow us to all live in harmony — this is the next frontier for humankind. Out of all the mammals on earth, I have faith human beings can achieve this first. We have a duty to do this.

  5. Peter Houlihan says:

    Reminds me a little of a story I read back in 2001 about a man who was shot in the US (was it Texas?) because he looked like Osama Bin Laden.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yeah, and I think he turned out to be Sikh, not even a Muslim? Not that that would make a difference in the loss of a life, but it shows the depth of the ignorance….

  6. Thank you for your strong words and outrage….My 11 year old son is learning about ancient Greek history and the Peloponnesian Wars (and all the endless violence between the ancient Greeks and the Persians)….the violence continues today in our daily headlines: one group trying to wipe out another…

    We “Americans” should all go back to “our country” because technically the overwhelming majority of us or our ancestors were not Native Americans….Who are real “Americans”? Do you belong here more because your ancestors came over on the Mayflower and infected the Native Americans with communicable diseases which killed off so many of them? Do you belong here more because your ancestors enslaved Africans and needed them to work on their vast plantations? Do you belong here more because you came over on a Mayflower ship or a slave ship? Do you belong here more than a Muslim in a hijab because your ancestors came over on a ship that landed at Ellis Island long ago from some European country?

    There are a lot of questions we should ask ourselves…Who are we? Who belongs here? Do any of us? Maybe we should all go “home” since none of our ancestors were Native Americans…?

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Yep, I don’t know about you, but I’d have to leave for the Netherlands. Thing is, no one sees a little Dutch girl and is threatened by her. That’s where race and religion come into play…

  7. Krishnabrodhi says:

    Jackie Summer gave a very wonderful strategy for dealing with racism in his GMP article here…


    “I know how to solve racism. I know how to solve homophobia, misogyny and misandry for that matter. I think we all know. The way you solve social ills is: stop teaching them. Accept the right of those who currently clutch desperately onto their beliefs as inalienable, and know they are lost to your cause. No dazzling display of intellect or passionate entreaty will sway the likes of the Zimmermans and Lees of the world, or their defenders. They are who they are, and it may be asking too much of them to change. The only way to kill racism is to allow racists to die off.
    Teach the teachable. Show those who are bringing children into the world why it’s important to teach equality for all, and show them how. Plant seeds of justice in our progeny that will grow to someday provide shade for all.”


  1. […] GMP’s Schroeder and I got into it after I found her running her mouth on Twitter.  She didn’t know that the proprietor of GLPiggy is also the guy who sometimes writes for GMP.  So she was talking about how much she hated GLPiggy, etc.  I jumped in, and she seems to have felt bad and then said that I’ve gone after her pretty hardcore in the past.  Perhaps, but why wouldn’t I after coming into contact with stuff like this?: […]

  2. […] tied in the shooting of Trayvon Martin and his hoodie to Alawadi and her hijab.  Schroeder wrote: It may not have been Shaima’s hijab that made her a target… or maybe it was. Either way, in […]

  3. […] commented on Mrs. Alawadi’s murder two weeks ago, after she was beaten in her home with what is assumed to be […]

  4. […] commented on Mrs. Alawadi’s murder two weeks ago, after she was beaten in her home with what is assumed […]

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