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Hayden, Cara J (2009) Asha. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh.

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At night on back-alley streets, big-flowered fabrics glow in the windows of thousands of homes across the United States. The fabrics are not curtains or bed sheets that have been tacked over windows for privacy. They’re wall drapes, wide swaths of fabric that wrap around the entire homes of Somali Bantu immigrants, the largest group of African refugees that’s ever resettled in the United States. Their former homes in Somalia were generally unseen by society, but their American windows are illuminated by brilliant reds and purples and oranges, colors that pop and wow and trumpet. The colorful beacons can be seen in Brooklyn, or Portland, Maine, or Atlanta—in any of the 50 cities where the Somali Bantus have settled since 2003. One row house in Pittsburgh, Pa., has pink drapes imprinted with red flowers the size of mangoes and plant fronds that curl in myriad directions. Every night, when the lights are turned on inside, the fabric animates two second-story windows in an otherwise muted block of row homes. Inside, the pink drapes cloak the entire living room, covering the walls and windows from floor to ceiling, giving the chamber a tent-like feel. A teenage girl named Asha lives there with her family. The Tent Room is where she serves bowls of rice or noodles to her father, hunches over a coffee table to scratch guesses on her homework, gives her mother insulin shots, breaks up arguments between her five younger siblings, and flirts with boys on MySpace while hoping that her father doesn’t arrange a marriage too soon. Amidst the pink fabrics she imagines her American life—she is rich and beautiful and smart. She has a car to drive and a college degree. She’s a nurse or a banker or an art teacher. She has processed, straight hair and she has a pierced nose. Yet her fantasies often get interrupted as she tries to make sense of the realities of living in the United States as a Black Muslim daughter. The Tent Room is both a haven and a confine.


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Item Type: Other Thesis, Dissertation, or Long Paper (Master's Thesis)
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Hayden, Cara J
Date: 20 April 2009
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: MFA - Master of Fine Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Somali, Bantu
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2013 20:37
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2018 00:55


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