IRVING, TX - Nye Armstrong loves to talk. It doesn't matter what about, she's ready to gab about fashion, recipes, books and religion on her Youtube channel.
"I'm not shy," Armstrong joked.
The Irving woman regularly posts to her video blog and often discusses her Muslim religion. Last week, she says one of her posts made it to an "alt-right" site and she was inundated with hateful messages.
"Go throw yourself in an oven," Armstrong quoted, "That hurt the most."
Dozens of comments tore into Armstrong's weight, religion and apparent "betrayal" of her race. Armstrong is Caucasian and became Muslim in her twenties after connecting with the religion's scripture and teachings.
"I think it was even more upsetting for them that I'm a white woman," Armstrong said.
While the comments calling for violence or containing propane language are disturbing, the rhetoric is not unique for Muslim women who wear hijabs in the United States.
Zeena Alkurdi is a graphic designer and mother of two in the Dallas area. She wears a hijab and says verbal harassment and stares have become a part of daily life.
"There are all kinds of people in downtown Dallas and you hear a lot of stuff. There has been more since we elected Donald Trump," Alkurdi said.
Zakurdi and Armstrong say the harassment will not force them to stop wearing the religious head coverings, although Alkurdi's family had encouraged her to consider it after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"I was young and they said, 'Just think about stopping for a while.' I thought, 'I don't want to change because of other people,'" Zakurdi said.
For both women, wearing hijab is a decision they call empowering, a right to express their identity and their religion they way they see fit.
"I consider myself a feminist and for me, this is about choice," Zakurdi said.
Armstrong puts on a brave face and brushes the hateful comments aside, but while talking to her, there are moments when the hurt shows.
"I don't get emotional for myself. It's when I think about other people that wouldn't be able to get through comments with people telling them to kill themselves," Armstrong said.
Like her hijab, Armstrong says her Youtube channel is about self-expression and bridging the divide between people of different backgrounds.
"I'm normal some, just talking is normalizing what and who I am," Armstrong said.
Hours after the initial onslaught of hateful and anti-Islam messages flooded her account, Armstrong posted a video response telling the critics she refuses to let them dictate how she feels about herself.
Armstrong says the comments are proof her videos and expression are needed more than ever and that's what she has no plans on keeping quiet anytime soon.
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