Hate me. Hate me all you want. Hate me with every bone in your body. Heck, better yet, hate me so much that I´m not even worth your time.
But there is one thing I ask of you. Hate me for what you know I am, not what you think I am. There lies tremendous difference.
You think you know me. You think you know of my kind. You´ve seen Not Without My Daughter, The Siege and a couple hours of Headline news. In fact, you may now even know me better than I know myself. So tell me, who exactly am I?
I wear a scarf on my head and have tan skin, so I must be one of the oppressed “Ay-rabs.” I probably speak English with a thick accent, assuming I speak it. I´m probably a genius at organic chemistry, you know, just in case my country needs me for biological warfare.
I probably have no self esteem, have never made a positive contribution to society, and was probably sold off to some old man with a thick mustache, at the ripe ol´ age of 12 and am fully ready to submit to all that he asks.
OK, so who am I really? Well, first off, though I do wear a scarf, that makes me Muslim, not a nationality. And yes, Im guilty, I do speak English with an accent.
My accent is derived from deep roots in the motherland of Brooklyn, N.Y. As for my organic chemistry skills, I really couldn´t tell you because I fortunately dropped out of the class-from-hell before it could get a hold of my GPA . My self-esteem? Believe me, it´s just fine. Oh, and we can´t forget my thick mustached ol´ man, well to quote Office Space, “Ummm yeah.”
My point? I am me. I am not that woman happily parading her children on CNN in some overseas country with a burning U.S. flag after watching the horrifying and inhumane acts that occurred in New York. I have a heart. I have a conscience.
I don´t take comfort in seeing thousands of innocent people perish. Perish in any city, let alone the city that is my home. The city where I was born and raised. People I grew up with. People I´m related to. Buildings whose photos I hang up in my room. Buildings I´ve been in and have many memories of.
Yes, I am a Muslim and, I am assuming, so were some of those celebrating. But like any two people, we are each unique. Yes, we worship the same God and read the same scripture. Unfortunately, they have probably lived a life full of religious persecution, hatred, oppression, and may not know of any other way. Fortunately, I´ve had the luxury of a roof over my head, food on the table and the security of a great nation.
I can´t indulge in politics; that´s not my forte. But I can say, its ironic how we´ve become so callous to watching these tragedies occur everyday (even if not to this magnitude) all over the world, yet we as Americans are so egocentric to think that that could never happen here, but it did. My security blanket has been snatched away and my comfort zone diminished.
I hope our retaliation is aimed at those guilty, not those caught in the crossfire, because today, I fully understand the true meaning of ignorance. My ignorance for living in my bubble and that overseas woman´s ignorance for thinking violence is the solution.
With all this said, I would most importantly like to say thank you. Thank you to all those who comforted me during my time of need. Thank you to my co-workers and my boss for making sure my family was OK. Thank you to all my fellow students that came up to at the end of classes because they remembered I had once told them I was from New York and had family there. Thank you to the friends that stopped by my room, and left messages for me when I couldn´t be contacted.
For all those that glare with hatred, remember it is people like you, not people like me that commit these horrific acts.
Haq is a junior in psychology and communications from New York City and Kansas City, Mo.