Herrah Hussain recounts being bullied in school due to her skin color. Her mother has been her source of support. Herrah hopes that by sharing her story, she can bring awareness to the larger issue of discrimination. She is an intern for MALA’s Spring 2017 semester.
My name is Herrah Hussain; I am a senior at Loyola University Chicago studying Sociology. My family is from Karachi, Pakistan and came here in the 80’s. From an early age I knew my life would be different because I am a Muslim American. Although I was born here, I did feel that my allegiance to this country would be questioned. I would hear taunts and feel the hatred from my classmates because of my religion.
One of my earliest memories is of me running home crying after school and telling my parents that I wasn’t invited to my classmate’s birthday party because she didn’t want colored girls there. I learned from an early age that this would happen many times in my life and it wasn’t because of me. It was because whenever people look at me, they judge me based off the color of my skin.
Dealing with bullies is the worst. I distinctly remember one particular bully who sat next to me during my study period and would repeatedly call me ugly and stupid. For a while I took it because I didn’t realize I could do anything about it. But then one day I had enough, I told my Mom what was going on and she gave me the strength to tell my school counselor.
My mother has always been my biggest supporter, closest friend, and knows me inside and out. When I would come home crying or I would tell her what kids would tell me she would always be there for me, listening, and helping me understand how some people could be so cruel and how to handle it. She helped me overcome my fears, deal with bullies, and how to be the best me. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am right now without her support; she is my number one fan and will always be by my side. What gives me hope is knowing my present state is not my final state. I can make my life however I want, it’s up to me to take the steps necessary to get where I want to be.
A huge issue Muslim Americans face today is our association with terrorist groups. Many don’t take the time to research, learn, and have open conversations to understand that Islam is a peaceful religion that preaches love and compassion. In grade school I can’t count the number of times my classmates would approach me and accuse me of being a terrorist and blame me for the attacks America was facing at the time.
The first step we need to take to change this is to have open communication. By talking with others and helping them understand we can change the perception most hold of Muslims. We as a nation cannot continue living like this, just because we are Muslims doesn’t make us any less American. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my life is that my skin color doesn’t define me. I am a Muslim American and I’m here to stay.