Op/Ed

Poetry: To all the people who hate Muslims

Do I scare you? They call it Islamophobia after all.
Do I scare you? Does my family scare you?
Let me give you a summary of us, in case you didn’t really know us all that well.
 
Me,
Standing at about 5 foot 2 inches,
With big, bushy, fuzzy hair
And a penchant for zoning out and
Always having graphite-stained fingers.
 
My sister,
10 years old, who once made
Her own little snack dispenser
Out of a cardboard box and some tape.
 
My father,
Who makes us pancakes in the mornings,
Who loves gardening and prides himself
On making food out of our own vegetables
In the summers.
 
My mother,
Who drinks more tea than seems humanly possible
who’s just finishing up her dissertation now,
And loves dancing to any song, anywhere.
 
Are you scared of us? Because that seems a little silly at this point, doesn’t it?
 
You tell everyone that you’re scared, scared that your culture is going to be gone, scared we’ll bomb you, scared that we won’t assimilate. But you know what? I don’t think you’re really scared. I think you’re angry.
 
Angry,
Because you have lost people
That you knew,
And for this I cannot blame you.
 
Angry,
Because we speak with the wisps
Of foreign places on our tongues
And you cannot love what you have
Never seen. 
 
Angry,
Because you hear of things that are done
And you do not understand them,
And confusion is often the source of
Hatred.
 
So no, I do not think you are scared. I think you are angry with people you have never met in your life, never talked to in your life, and isn’t that a bit weird. But hey, I’m not here to tell you how to live your lives, no. But just consider this.
 
I am scared.
 
I am scared when I walk down the street at night.
Whenever someone is behind me
I hold my phone to my ear
Oh
So
Tight
And pretend
That I am talking.
 
I am scared whenever I see someone
Wearing a red hat.
I quickly scan the words
Feel
My
Heart
Skip
A beat when it’s not
What I’m expecting.
 
I am scared whenever I watch the news,
Hope that we are not forced
To identify ourselves
With
Badges
Repeating
History
My
God
What has it come to?
 
I’m scared.
And maybe in your minds you feel that is an accomplishment, some kind of sick, twisted sense of satisfaction will fill you when you read these words. But there shouldn’t be any. Because I am a 13 year old girl. You made a 13-year-old girl scared. Do you feel accomplished? You made my 10-year-old sister be afraid. Do you feel accomplished? You made my mother cry. Do you feel accomplished? You made my father feel like he couldn’t function. Do you feel accomplished?
 
I bow down to a God that you think
Is not yours and you hate.
 
I sing prayers in a language
That is not yours and you hate.
 
I fast for a month to understand
The struggle of the poor and you hate,
 
All because you got your information
Of Islam from old and outdated beliefs
So you hate
 
And yet didn’t the Bible say, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Well, we are your neighbors, we are the people that run your local supermarket or dollar store, we are the people that teach you, we are the people that are your students, your friends, we are everywhere and yet you never noticed us because your version of Islam is some monster that you have built up in your mind, and hey, I’m not saying that we’re perfect but neither are you.
 
And there’s something fundamentally wrong
with this conversation we’re having because
I should not be asking you to not hate us.
 
It is my right to live in happiness and it is my right
to practice my religion, so don’t tell me that I am a monster
for praying and loving and simply existing.
 
So don’t tell me that my religion is an ideology
when you say that yours isn’t.
 
So I guess what I’m trying to say to all the people who hate Muslims is that I don’t hate you. I just want you to understand, and I don’t want to be scared anymore. Please don’t let me be scared anymore. Open your eyes, bring a little love to the table. And as much as I hate this, I’m begging you to not be angry anymore.
 
Love,
me.
 
 
Narges Anzali
Weybridge
The writer is an eighth-grader at Middlebury Union Middle School.

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