A large part of my identity comes from me being Muslim. When people see me the first thing that they notice is that I am a Muslim. I’m different from average public school students. I wear the hijab and make sure I’m covered up every time I step out of the house.
The one thing I like to make sure everyone knows is that I am not Middle Eastern, I am Bengali. Just because I’m Muslim it doesn’t mean I’m from the Middle East. Many people assume that I’m Middle Eastern. During freshman year this girl asked me, “Are you from the Middle East?’’
“No, I am from Bangladesh,” I said.
“Well that’s technically in the Middle East, it links up there,” the girl said.
“No, we have a totally different culture and different religion. Bangladesh is in South Asia.” We had an argument. Muslims could be from any country it doesn’t matter. When you see a Muslim nobody should automatically think that he or she is from the Middle East.
I always feel different when I’m at school. It’s because I wear the hijab and I’m always covered up while the majority of the schoolgirls has their hair out, wears shorts and tanks. I know that I’m not the only Muslim in the school but I still feel different.
Hijab? Most people ask me, “Samera what is a hijab,” or they ask me, “Samera why do you wear that thing on your head?’’
“This is called hijab. I wear it because guys can’t see my hair,” I answered.
“Why can’t guys see your hair?’’ they asked.
“When girls have their hair out it causes attraction. Guys get attracted. If guys get attracted to my hair then I get sins. I also have to cover up my body because if I wear shorts and show my body off guys gets more attracted. For example, imagine there are two girls walking on the street and one is a Muslim and she’s covered up and the other girl is wearing shorts and a tank up. Who do think which girl is guys are going to come after,” I answered?
“Obviously the girl that’s wearing shorts and a tank top,” they said.
“Exactly, that’s why we have to cover up,” I answered.
“Oh, I get it now.”
I’ve always been mistreated because of my identity. I’ve gotten so much hate because of who I am. Not just me but also my mom. There are some racist stories that happened my mom never talked to me about. The first story happened to us when I used to live in New York. My mom and I were in the elevator on our way to our apartment. In the elevator, there was a group of girls, about 4 girls. They were eating chips. For “fun” they threw chips at my mom and started laughing. They said something under their breath that we didn’t understand. The second story happened after I moved to Philadelphia. I was at the grocery store and a lady put the middle out and said, “Fuck Muslims.”
The third racist thing someone told me in Philadelphia was “Get out of our country.” In my head, I said, “How am I supposed to get if I am born and raised here. I have nowhere to go.”
There is one thing that someone said to me and still hurts till this day. This happened in Philadelphia when I was in 7th grade. During history class, my classmate said to me “Samera you are going to be a terrorist when you grow.”
After I heard that person say that to me my brain just switched off. Everything just turned dark. The tears were rushing to come out of my eyes. I tried to hold it in because I didn’t want to make myself look like a fool in front of the whole class.I was hurt to the point that I couldn’t forget. Being called something bad for who you are, hurts. Now I feel like I have a small hole try my best to look past it but once in awhile that sentence just hits me.
I regret a lot of things. The one thing that I regret the most is not speaking up. I really wish I spoke up when I was called a terrorist. I didn’t because it would just start a huge problem. I never told my parents what happened because I was scared they would put me out of public school. The reason why I didn’t speak up was that Islam means peace. I thought that if I keep silent that’s would be the peaceful way to handle it.
I really wish people would understand that this isn’t funny this is serious. This is serious because talking bad about a someone's religion it disrespectful. For most Muslims, religion is what makes us who we are. Now I started to realize that I should speak up so this why I decided to write about it. Even after all this hate, I don’t care what people say about who I am. Being Bengali is very important to me it’s because of parents. Bengali is also what makes me who I am. My culture is important to me. Even after all this hatred, I am very proud young Bengali Muslim.