I remember what it felt like. The sadness, confusion and resulting anger are carved into our memories. “Never Forget?” I would be surprised if anyone ever could. As I’ve moved along life’s highway over the last 14 years, I’ve met a bunch of different people. I’ve met people that were directly affected by that awful act of terrorism; people that had coworkers and family in those buildings. You can feel the pain in their words and hear the sorrow in their tone. I will never forget the thousands of people that perished in those buildings and other planes, just normal people doing their jobs and the over 400 members of fire departments and police officers that ran towards the end to save only a few. In no way do I want to minimize the loss of all these people but I have a point of view that’s not really talked about and I witnessed it this morning in full force.
I am well into my semester of college, my back to school adventure continues. In a big way, living in this country has allowed me the freedom to do this. So, that makes me very patriotic and proud to live in a country where we are allowed to fully chase dreams. This is not a slam against Americana but is a different point of view.
I’m am fully routinized now. On Fridays I drop my daughter off at her daycare and go straight to the gym. Along with my brain functions getting strong, I continue to work on being physically fit. I’m going to have to be in good shape to keep up with my almost 1 year old. Being at the gym the same times every week you start to notice some of the same characters. I enjoy it and it gives me a chance to reflect on one of reasons I love where I live. It’s called diversity. So many different races make the bay area home. I’ve gotten really used to it and have fully embraced it. There is a tall slender gentleman that walks on a treadmill every time I’m there. He wears an Adidas jumpsuit and a sweet pair of running shoes. I honestly didn’t even realize it until we exited the gym at the same time. The Ford pickup truck driver hit his horn and blocked us from crossing into the parking lot. He then sped away while throwing a water bottle out the window in our direction accompanying this , “Go Home Sand Nigger…Never Forget Motherfucker…” I was in utter shock but the slender fellow kept his calm and crossed into the lot. I ran over to him and quickly introduced myself. “Should we do something?,” I said because I didn’t know what else to say. “There’s nothing to do young man. It wouldn’t matter anyway.” He said this as though he had before. I swiftly realized that today; while we remember our fallen, while we mourn, while we hold our heads up and tell terrorists that they cannot beat us, there are thousands of Muslim and other people mistaken for Muslims a crossed the country that go through this annually and probably more than that. Research: before 9/11 there were typically 20-30 anti-Muslim hate crimes a year in the U.S. After 9/11, still in the year 2001, that number rose to almost 500. Every year since it’s hovered between 100-150 per year. These are shocking statistics to me and not that shocking at the same time. We, over generalization, have a unique tendency to lump everyone into the same pool. A man with a turban on his head must be up to something. If you say you are from North Korea, forget about it, you’re insane just like the dictator you escaped. And if your Mexican, how did you get into our country? Once upon a time we were a nation that was founded on the idea of “maybe someday” we will accept people of all creeds. I’m beginning to think this may never happen. I thought my generation (X) would be the one to “change the world,” however the man driving the truck was clearly within my demographic. My heart sinks further.
9/11 wasn’t just an attack on us as a country. It was another moment in history that provided fuel for racial divide. Again, I peer into my daughter’s untainted pure blue eyes. I know that there are parents out there within my generation that are going to teach their kids racism, some may even do it inadvertently. I am sad today, sad for families that lost people on that fateful day but also sad for people that have to go through the sting of being different in our country. I have hope though. I grew up closely with an Iranian/American family in Wyoming and they are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. My daycare provider is also from Iran and I am proud of that. I will continue to teach my kid to accept all human beings, will you?
“Balbir Singh Sodi was murdered 4 days after 9/11. He was the first fatal victim of 9/11 hate crimes. “