A typical American teenager, Hannah Shraim, 17, is Senior class president of her high school, attends a study group of students that meets at Starbucks, is a member of the Girl Scouts, and enjoys time with her diverse group of friends and her close-knit family.
She is also an observant Muslim who prays five times a day, wears the Islamic headscarf (hijab), and hopes to become an advocate for Muslims in the United States. After convincing her parents that she was ready for the responsibility, she began wearing the headscarf every day in the 10th grade.
This past May, AP photographer Jacquelyn Martin documented the teenager's daily life and attendance at her senior prom, as part of “Divided America – American Moments” the AP news series that explores the issues dividing American voters in this tumultuous presidential election year and what’s driving them toward the decision they will make on Nov. 8.
Shraim's parents were initially concerned about her decision to wear the hijab, citing fears of how strangers might treat her. Lately, Hannah herself is concerned by the rhetoric about Muslims that she hears from the Republican candidate for President, Donald Trump, and some of his supporters. "If Trump becomes the president, then not just Muslims, but a lot of people will live in fear of the future for themselves and their children," says Shraim, "given the scapegoating technique of pushing out minorities, rather than focusing on how we can benefit everyone.”
Shraim picked out her prom dress from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion, and was careful to keep her hijab in place throughout the evening while dancing with a group of friends. Although she was not the only Muslim student attending her diverse high school’s prom, she was the only student wearing a hijab among the hundreds of sequined dancers that evening.
Here is Martin’s photo essay along with audio excerpts from her interview of Hannah Shraim.
Text, photos, and audio by Jacquelyn Martin