Growing up in one of Chicago’s most notorious neighborhoods, Tanya enjoys her life filled with good friends, a great school, and a job that allows her to emulate the most popular girls in the neighborhood. But when she discovers a new religion, she begins to realize that she yearns for more than the uninspired lifestyle she’s leading. As she immerses herself in the intricate, endearing teachings of Islam, she finds the answers to questions that have haunted her all her life. Forced to grow up too soon while desperately looking for love in all the wrong places, Tanya strives to conform to a religion that forbids the only way of life she’s ever known. Just as her long and winding path finally begins to lead her to happiness and success, a dangerously possessive man threatens to take it all away.
My Red Hijab, My White Baby Tee, and My Blue Skinny Jeans by Iman Gill chronicles the tumultuous life of a young, inner-city girl as she journeys away from traditional Christianity. She soon learns that changing her life for the better will be the most difficult thing she ever had to do. Will she succeed?
Except from Chapter 2 entitled Kafir Girls:
Tanya first noticed him one day when he was walking alone
past the auditorium. He had to be at least six feet tall, with
dark-chocolate skin, hazel eyes, and a beautiful smile. His hair
was cut in a low Ceasar, and his facial hair had the makings
of a beard in progress. He wore fatigues with wheat-colored
Timberland boots that made him look like an urban soldier.
After that day, it seemed like she started to see him
everywhere. She found out his name was Riyadh after she did
her mandatory background investigation on him. To say he
looked good was an understatement. His demeanor was like
fire. He had this deep voice that could be heard over any crowd.
He walked down the hall as if he owned it. She knew he was
different from other boys. At the time, she had no idea just how
different he would make her life.
He turned out to be Muslim, too. He immediately became
one of the more-revered members in their clique, and soon
everyone knew his name. He was a junior, and she had heard
that he carried a gun and that he had already done hard time.
She couldn’t believe that he was as bad as everyone made him
out to be. How much time could he have actually done at the
tender age of seventeen? This only added to his allure.
Riyadh seemed to go against the belief system of his
crew when he chose his first girlfriend in the school. She was
the furthest thing from Muslim, and he seemed proud to have
her on his arm. While the other guys would flirt with kafirs, as
they called them, Tanya never really saw them claiming any as
their girlfriends, except on rare occasions. Rumors circulated
about some of the Muslim guys having sex with the kafir girls
and then acting as if they didn’t know them after the fact. Tanya
couldn’t understand the hypocrisy of it all. She wondered to
herself why the girls were good enough to screw, but not good
enough to claim.
After Riyadh caught her attention, she made a point of
doing a little research on Islamic law. She learned that the men
were allowed to marry women who were Jewish or Christian;
so, it wasn’t their religion that was dictating their behavior. She
came to the conclusion that it must simply be their personal
preference. The fact that they looked down on non-Muslim girls
like her did not sit well with Tanya. What did their women have
that she didn’t?
Riyadh was the new boy, and when he got a girlfriend,
the news that he was off the market got around quickly. She
heard he was the product of an African mother and an Arab
father, which explained his exotic looks that all the girls were
going crazy over. His parents were in Canada and had sent him
to live with his uncle in Chicago. His uncle owned a Masjid,
and they thought he could teach Riyadh the discipline he
The day that she knew she had to have him was the day
she first saw him with his girlfriend. Not because Tanya was
a man-stealer, but because she was surprised he didn’t go for
the typical light skin and long hair that some of the black boys
Riyadh could have any girl in that school, and he knew
it. He chose a heavy girl from the step team who had a bad case
of acne. Tanya could tell from the type of woman he chose that
he had the ability to look beyond superficial appearances. She
was impressed. It showed that he didn’t make decisions based
on what people thought of him. He seemed to really care about
the girl, and he was very affectionate with her in public. While
he was in that relationship, he had blinders on when other girls
came around. Tanya wanted to be the type of girl he would
Rumor had it that Riyadh and his older brothers had
taken up stealing cars on the Southside. She believed it, because
his older brother Rahim always picked him up from school in a
different car every day. Sometimes his girlfriend left with them.
Tanya would watch them pull off, as jealous as she could be.
She just knew she didn’t have a chance. Even after he
broke up with his girlfriend, she figured she wasn’t his type.
She was the total opposite of his ex-girlfriend. She was medium
height and thick, with a cinnamon complexion and shoulderlength
hair. She was a cute girl with her share of hang ups with
herself. People always complimented her eyes and told her she
had a nice shape, but she was always surprised when anyone
she considered to be out of her league showed any interest in
her. She always wondered what they saw in her.
There were always prettier girls at school, but Tanya
never had a problem pulling the guy that all the girls wanted.
At this school, however, she was immediately knocked down a
notch. These girls were absolutely gorgeous. She held her own
and walked around with her head held high, but her insecurities
were always there. She was quiet and observant, but never the
scary type. She had a sword for a tongue and used it precisely.
She knew it was her attitude that got her the attention she
She had a fun personality, and she was always laughing
and being a smart-ass. She took pride in being well put together,
but she wasn’t a snob. She was very smart and always ended
up being her friends’ go-to person for advice or a good laugh.
Those were the qualities that enabled her to get the guys that
all the other girls wanted. Only one person didn’t seem to pick
up on how cool she was, and it was the one she wanted to the
Iman Gill is a young, innovative writer with a passion for tackling taboo issues close to her own heart. Her first novel published by J. Burrage Publications, My Red Hijab, My White Baby Tee, and My Blue Skinny Jeans, does just that. Iman is also a freelance writer for a wide variety of topics. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and young family.
Get to Know Imani:
1) What inspired you to write your debut novel, My Red Hijab, My White Baby Tee, and My Blue Skinny Jeans?
The book True to the Game by Teri Woods is what sparked my initial interest in writing. I liked the way she wove a familiar religious culture into an urban tale. It made me feel as if the book was tailored to my personal preferences. When I read it I was in the middle of my own religious epiphany, and the fact that I could relate to this book on such a personal level gave me the courage to approach other topics that I knew other girls and young women like myself could relate to.
With my novel, I wanted to shed light on how hard it can be to stay true to your personal belief system with today’s different cultural influences.
2) Do you have a target audience for this book?
I think a great amount of people can relate to this story of crazy love and inward battles. Although a certain type of audience may gravitate to the topic more than others due to familiarity, I think that the overall message is universal. The way it plays out is thought provoking, if not entertaining, and I think that those characteristics are the main ingredients that most audiences require in a good book.
3.) Do you plan on doing a sequel to your first novel?
I’m thinking about it. The way the story ends is very jolting and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Maybe there is a way to put a spin on the story and pack more lessons in there. The first book deals with the cause and effect of bad relationships with family and friends, and how it can affect your life forever. It would be interesting to write about how these characters end up later in life.
4.) Did you always aspire to write?
Not at all; it was just something I did with ease as a student and in the business world. One of my favorite pass times was always reading. I always found nothing more entertaining than staying up all night with a good book. It was like escaping to another world. I learned the power of a good story and how it can make you think about your own life.
Reading avidly while growing up is what helped me to excel in writing today. It gave me a reference guide for the type of writer that I wanted to be. Becoming familiar with different authors and their variety of writing styles, gave me confidence to develop a style of my own, and be proud of what I had to offer as a writer.
5) Do you feel any pressure to put a censor on what you write?
In a way, because I would never want anyone to use the bad things that I write about as a representation of how anyone else may behave. In the same token, I only write what I know or have seen with my own eyes. If a story that I write can get a positive message through, then I feel as if I am doing something right.
6.) Do you fear anything about the publishing process, with the publication of your first novel?
Putting my work out there for judgment is the only thing that has made me hesitate in the past. Although I have freelanced, this is my debut as a fiction author and I am eager to see what people think! I have been blessed with an amazing publishing team and family to support me, and their belief in the book is what gives me courage to do this. The act of writing is very personal to me and what I care about most is relating to readers on an intimate level.
7.) What is next for you?
Hopefully, completing other fiction novels that touch on other topics that I am passionate about. I hope to continue growing and tackling subjects that have never been approached from my point of view. I will continue to write for the people who like to read about the type of people we envy, mock, or idolize. Perfecting valuable underlying messages within my novels is my ultimate goal.
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