The Road Not Taken: Shedding Xenophobia, Embracing the Other in Umm Zakiyyah’s <i>If I Should Speak<i/>
AbstractIn Umm Zakiyyah's If I Should Speak (2000), the protagonist, African American Christian Tamika Douglass experiences travelling down the road not taken when she befriends her two minority Muslim American college flatmates, Dee @ Durrah and Aminah. Raised in a predominantly Christian society, Tamika develops a great mistrust of Islam and Muslims. However, her close and personal encounter with the two Muslims transforms her appreciation of the religion. Through Tamika's dialogue with them and personal observations of their daily living, Tamika journeys into the road less travelled by most Americans, one which is foreign albeit close to home. In the course of the narrative, Tamika learns to shed some of the xenophobic attitudes she has adopted growing up in the predominantly non-Muslim environment and embrace the internal conflicts that have crippled her awareness of the “other.” This paper considers the motif of the road as a metaphor for life and explicates how in journeying the road less travelled, Tamika finds a new sense of appreciation of herself and the other.
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