Only a few weeks ago, I wrote an entry about Islamic culture and the religion itself, describing my opinions on discrimination and stereotypes against Muslims. To gain a personal perspective on how Muslim-Americans react to racism, I asked the following questions to one of my best friends to gain a deeper understanding on what it is to be like to be a Muslim-American teenager in today’s day and age.
Q: Have you ever been the victim of outright discrimination because of your religion? If so, what is the most significant incident you can remember?
A: I have never been bullied or discriminated against on a consistent basis for being a Muslim. I certainly have had derogatory comments and semi-offensive jokes thrown my way, but none affected me that much. I am usually good with letting people know when they need to stop, and so far it hasn’t come to that. As far as incidents go, one time in sixth grade I skipped school because of Eid. The next day I came back, people asked me where I was. I responded and told them, but for some reason I felt slightly uncomfortable, as if telling them my religion would make them treat me differently. They did not though, many were surprised however considering my complexion would make me a Hindu, but they learned and moved on.
Q: When in your life did you begin to notice that certain people held biases against you because of what you or believe?
A:I think it was high school when I realized that some people did have biases against people of other skin color, complexion and religion. Maybe it was because there were so many people from different cultures in one environment, or because I just never noticed until then.
Q:What do you feel is the most negative stereotype surrounding Muslims in America today?
A:The list is long, from women’s rights, to terrorism and the Arabic language. But if I had to choose one, it’d probably be that Islam, at heart, is not a violent religion. In media the word Islam often goes hand in hand with “terrorist” or “radical” and that’s not how it should be. The word “Islam” comes from the root “salam” which means peace. People should realize that Muslims aren’t bad people and their religion does not teach them to hurt anyone. “Muslim” terrorists aren’t considered Islamic by any Muslims.
Q:Do you think that the next generation will be more tolerant and accepting and that some of the biases regarding Muslim people will go away in time?
A:I honestly don’t know. The fear of Muslims and some of the beliefs against them run strong in some people. I certainly hope that people forget about anti-Islamic beliefs and focus on real problems but I am unsure.
Q:What is your opinion about the current political situation, especially regarding Donald Trump?
A:These political campaigns this year are quite unique, if that’s how one should put it. It seems that all courtesy and professionalism, especially on the republican side had gone down in the dumps. D(onald) Trumps is an unqualified and arrogant nominee, and I can say for a lot of people that we are amazed at how far he’s made it after everything he has said.
Q:If there is one thing you could tell any racist in America right now about Islam and its beliefs, what would it be?
A:Please open your eyes, put away all biases and look around. America is, and always had been,a country accepting of different cultures, beliefs, and ideologies. That’s one of the reasons why my parent moved here. Muslims are not bad people, they are ordinary citizens just trying to do their jobs like everyone else.