Traveler Story: What It’s Like Traveling The World Solo As A Black Niqabi

Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter has been touring the earth because she was just a baby. Now a 23-yr-aged solo-touring niqabi, her journey ordeals nowadays are relatively different from individuals of her youth. Developing up, the New York native frequented numerous destinations with her family.

“My mother and father would usually acquire my brother and I on cruises to the Caribbean,” said the articles creator and operator of Muslim life style model Jayonamarie. We frequented locations like Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Hawaii when I was more youthful.”

Kiyonah embarked on her very first solo vacation experience at the age of 18, when she used a semester overseas finding out in Florence, Italy. Nowadays she has frequented 24 nations and continues to investigate the earth on her own. But as opposed to her before travels, she now does so sporting the niqab, or Islamic face veil. Obtaining converted to Islam, Kiyonah made the decision to start donning the niqab three years ago.

Photograph courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

“I’m so very pleased of my religion of Islam. I love leaving my residence carrying my hijab and niqab for the reason that it’s a reminder of my religion. I experienced for lots of several years of my daily life flaunted my physical beauty for the environment to see. I applied to only be anxious about getting the prettiest woman in the place. Now when I’m getting into a home, I am much more anxious about owning the ideal character, getting form, graceful, supportive, loving, and demonstrating all the attributes that Islam has taught me to have. Niqab usually means liberty to me. The liberty to hand select who is deserving to see all of me. Niqab suggests honor and control of my overall body.”

In the beginning, Kiyonah’s mothers and fathers had been shocked by her determination to veil her deal with. Nonetheless, they were accepting of her preference and eager to find out about about the niqab. They remained supportive and did not interfere or check out to halt their daughter from carrying out what she felt was correct for her.

“They felt that individuals would understand their sweet ‘baby girl’ as an extremist or some thing they ought to be scared of. The only photographs they realized of veiled ladies were being the one that are revealed in illustrations or photos of terrorist groups.”

Photograph courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

Kiyonah’s loved ones and pals were even far more involved about her safety as she commenced touring overseas solo as a niqabi.

Muslims are continually specific in the course of the earth. Islam has gotten a poor rap due to the heinous steps of other folks declaring to be Muslim.”

People’s intolerance for Islam can be seen not only in hijab and burkini bans, but also in assaults of harmless Muslims that have taken spot all-around the earth. Having said that, Kiyonah stays steadfast and sturdy, at any time proud of her religion and ready to deal with any challenges that might arise head on.

Thankfully, she has never ever experienced any unsafe cure throughout her travels. Nevertheless, 1 of the to start with factors she seen as a hijabi and niqabi is the way in which her ordeals at the airport have turn out to be different.

Photograph courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

“Before being visibly Muslim, going by means of TSA was breeze. I was stopped below and there for packing outsized toiletries, but almost nothing major. Now, as a niqabi, individuals ‘random’ pat downs and ‘random’ checks of my arms for risky substances are pretty dependable. It is unfortunate that they see me as suspicious thanks to my garments.”

When it will come to locals and other travelers from different sections of the entire world, people’s reactions to observing Kiyonah array from impolite stares and frowns to compliments and smiles.

“While strolling down the slender streets of Santorini, people were being pretty much slipping on best of a single a further making an attempt to get a very good appear at me. Some of their stares were being a minor uninviting. I comprehend that my graphic can be quite unique from what they are applied to, but you need to in no way crack your neck to stare at anyone.”

Image courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

“I do also get compliments really typically. Persons will inform me they enjoy my outfit or they like how modest and self-assured I am. Also in Greece, I experienced a group of young girls occur up to me and compliment my outfit and design. It is pleasant when fellow Muslims appear give me salams, way too.”

Possessing returned to the Dominican Republic as a niqabi, the nation stood out as one where by the locals were being particularly welcoming and encouraging of Kiyonah’s attire.

“It’s so unheard of to see ladies dressed modestly that lots of adult males and females were positively in awe at how modest I was on the seashores. I believe they observed my modesty refreshing. I had numerous random men and women compliment me and convey to me ‘Don’t stop being modest!’” 

Several people’s reactions are very likely based mostly on them currently being intrigued by the niqab and the secret it allows, as properly as their curiosity about Muslims and Islam in standard. Frequently, their curiosity qualified prospects them to talk to queries, creating way for a dialogue. Kiyonah has identified that these teachable times provide as a healthy way to assistance persons master and problem their misconceptions.

Image courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

“I consider it’s however difficult for individuals to understand that there are American-born Muslims. A large amount of people today instantly believe that I am from Africa or the Center East. They are curious to know how I turned a Muslim. I get pleasure from obtaining these discussions with people today overseas about my religion and apparel as lengthy as it remains respectful from both equally of us. I consider it as an option to dismantle the detrimental stereotypes that some folks have of Islam and of Black persons.”

Kiyonah not long ago began a new travel collection on her Instagram titled Spin the Globe and Go. In the sequence, she spins the globe four situations and chooses one particular of the four nations she lands on to be her subsequent vacation vacation spot.

“A aim of mine is to visit just about every nation in the globe. I’m not picky on the sequence I just want to see as a great deal of this attractive world as I can. Recently, it’s been fairly chilly and uninspiring in New York City. I desired to tap into my adventurous facet with this new sequence.”

Photo courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

With her four spins, Kiyonah landed on Canada, Chile, Jordan, and China. Getting been to China by now, she determined to get rid of it and select from the remaining a few possibilities. Chile and Canada had extra COVID constraints that would protect against her from traveling this thirty day period, so she selected Jordan and will be heading to the region before long.

“During the sequence, I want to inspire people to journey. I want persons to see what touring seems like by means of the lens of a Black Muslim lady and niqabi. With every single spot I pay a visit to, I unlock a new component of myself. I understand new strengths, new weaknesses. I master how to adapt to new insecurity scenarios. I have become more outgoing and self-assured. And I’ve uncovered how to like my very own organization.”

You can stick to Kiyonah and her Spin the Globe series on Instagram at @the_k.mb.

Photograph courtesy of Kiyonah Mya Buckhalter

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