by Aziza Mahmoud
I am a product of two Palestinian refugees of 1967 and I wear my uniform proudly.The Kuffieyah is more than just a beautifully printed silky piece of cloth—it is a headdress that I choose to wear to remind me of my family’s struggle as they walked the deserts in hopes to find a new place to call home. It gives me an identity.
Kuffieyahs are normally black and white, sometimes red. They come in all different colors with different prints and stitching patterns. Similar to most other uniforms, the pattern and design represent different countries and villages.
My Kuffieyah is yellow.
My Kuffieyah is not your traditional Kuffieyah. I am not traditional. I was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago; I have always worn my scarf as a way to stay grounded. My family and I were unable to spend our summers overseas because Yalu, Palestine does not exist. I was taught my family’s traditions and culture through stories, which my grandmother told me. At the age of 9, I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. I struggled with the idea of identity. I was unsure who I was and what I would become. Uncertainty became a common theme in my life—my diagnosis has no cure and no treatment. I always found myself coming home from school, work, or the hospital and wrapping myself up in my Kuffieyah. As I got older, I grew more attached to my Kuffieyah because it was my only connection to my family history.
It makes me who I am.