After 9/11, the American flag went up to show that America was strong as a nation and united. It is a day that has and will continue to go down in history books likely till the end of time. People lost loved ones, friends, family, and people everywhere were in shock and were afraid. But one thing not many people talk about is the hatred. The people were also filled with hatred; understandably, but the blame went on more than just a handful of people. It went on an entire religion and people.
I'm Muslim by birth. But I don't consider myself to be a devout Muslim because I don't pray five times a day, haven't finished the Quran, and a dozen other things i'm not too sure of. I was born and raised in Chicago but lived in India from when I was seven until I was nine but I always considered myself to be an American. In fact, when I was in India, I used to actually go to bed with, "I Love America," scribbled on my wall.
I was about 10 when 9/11 happened. I was sitting in my 5th grade class when an announcement went off. The teacher clicked on the t.v. and I saw buildings crumbling and faint screams that grew louder and louder. The building reminded me of Chicago's downtown and for a moment I thought that was us. But it couldn't be, it wasn't. Then an alarm sounded and the teacher said we had to go. That everyone was to go home immediately. I was just a girl then but I knew that somehow, nothing would ever be the same again.
For the next 4 years I was scrutinized, bullied, and badmouthed for being Indian. Kids at 12 don't care about your religion, they just match your skin and how you look. I was the only Indian person in my grammar school and after 9/11, I was called a terrorist hundreds of times and came home crying more than I could count on two hands.
I guess it's true what they say, ignorance is bliss because it made them happy to see me down. I was 10. How could I have anything to do with the attack? But they didn't care and you know what, a lot of people still don't. Suddenly what the act of a few dozen people did became the problem of every Indian woman, man, and child. Racial profiling, tapping into our phone lines, visits by actual FBI agents, oh yeah, we dealt with all that crap.
9/11 was a horrific event but it had nothing to do with an entire group of people. And 12 years later, the blatant slaps in the face may have gone down but the whispers still remain. In a Yahoo! article about the Muslim brotherhood, 75% of the comments preached that the solution was to kill all Muslims, not just the Muslim brotherhood. There are whispers at my job,"These Muslim's are moving into our Suburbs, we need to kick their asses out."
Every single fucking day, I think about 9/11 because even if I tried to forget, the world wouldn't let me. After 9/11, I notice that I am the only Indian on the train, at my job, in the mall, in my class, in the school, on the bus, and sometimes I even notice the stares. But what sucks most, is that most of the time I makeup what people might be thinking of me. Every time someone decides to not sit next to me, I wonder if it's because i'm Indian. Because they think i'm a terrorist.
I'm 22 now. And I think about this every day. And on this day for the past 12 years, I consider staying home because someone might hurt me. And on this day for the past 12 years, I pray to something, to someone, to anyone that nothing bad happens to my mom and sister because of the world's hatred.
I'm writing this because I have an entire lifetime full of memories for this day that changed the way I see the world forever. And I know i'm not the only one. 9/11 was a terrible tragedy and although the flags went up to show strength, freedom, and unity, it also separated a huge mass of people from an entire nation. I have this weird resentment in me now for a lot of people, mainly strangers. I don't think they are all good natured because of 9/11 and how I was treated, therefore, I have done the same thing that has been done to me and begun to look down on a nation. But i'm aware of it and I try my best to see the best in people. But sometimes it gets hard.
There was a point in which I told people I wasn't Indian because people were giving me such a hard time. But 9/11 doesn't define me. Now I am proud to say that I am Indian. That I was born Muslim. That somewhere in the sands of India lies my heart.
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