I was born and raised in America, but still am, and always will be, a descendant of both Pakistani and Afghanistani roots. I used to believe America was different, that they were the best — I still do, but to a limit. I believed they were the only nation that could do a 180-degree turn, from having slavery to total acceptance of every kind of person out there. But I was wrong and learned, through a bitter experience, that no one is perfect and not everyone is ready for total acceptance.
I was in the car with my mother and grandmother. I just had an amazing day with my grandmother. She taught me to sew baby dresses, cooked my favorite south Asian dish, and taught me about my roots. We stopped at a red light, and I noticed a big white man with a beard. He was standing on the side of the road. I stared at him and saw a sign in his hands: “homeless.” I wanted to give him money, but I had none. So, being 7 (at the time), I was about to pray for God to give him money until I saw that he caught eyes with my mother’s car. His face is one I’ll never forget; it looked like a vicious animal, crunched at the middle, like he could have been growling. Then he speed-walked over.
My grandmother said, “Yashi, don’t make eye contact.” My mother spoke as though she was talking to herself. “He has to be joking. Forget us, there is a child in the car. At least think about the child.”
The guy was outside of our window screaming, “Terrorists, go burn in hell! America is protected by Jesus and God. We help children. You corrupt them! We should just kill you all.” Then he turned to me and continued, “As they say, ‘Kill it when it’s young, so it won’t grow and spread.’”
Those words hurt me, scarred me and changed me. That day seemed to cause a ripple effect because I have been getting more and more hateful replies because of my faith.
It is completely stupid for a man to be judged based on his faith. Muslims in Pakistan wish Christians a merry Christmas; we don’t discriminate against them. The idea that all Muslims are terrorists needs to stop; religions are perfect, while people are not. You don’t see Muslims judge Christians based on Hitler, nor do you see them judge the Jewish religion because of Zionism. America needs to find a way to amend the hate between its people. We are all American, and we are all proud. The majority sees this; I wish the minority could, too.
Nina Davuluri, the new Miss America, is of Indian heritage, and embodies everything they were looking for in the new Miss America. I was so happy for her, but again there are the minority who cannot accept equality. Several people commented and condemned Nina’s coronation by taking to Twitter and saying a variety of hateful comments. One user stated, “This is Miss America, not Miss Muslim.”
We, as a whole, find reasons to separate ourselves. It is about time for the American people to really join hand-in-hand and change the way the entire nation acts to one another. Don’t let small things like one’s appearance or one’s belief divide who we are as a whole.
Yasmin Khan, Greenbelt