As I slowly and carefully take my steps to get to class, I think not to rush. Theechoing of my footsteps continues. Clank, clank. I keep thinking, I shouldn't bein a hurry. I'm walking down the hall to my fifth grade class. Because the warwith Iraq has begun, I'm experiencing hostility from my peers. Lately I've beenafraid to even open my mouth in class. I'm not used to this treatment. Luckily,throughout my life, people had never made fun of me, but ever since the war, I'vebeen feeling it close in on me.
I step into the class only to be receivedby the loud laughter of a class full of fifth graders when my teacher steppedout. Many crack jokes: "Look! It's Sadia- rabia! Ha Ha!" or"Saddam Hussain." I simply stand there and soak it all in with a dumbexpression on my face. I feel like dropping through the floor. But I know there'snowhere I can go, or nothing I can do. What can I say? It's 25 kids to l. One ofthe boys grabs me by the arms and pushes me out of the classroom while screaminginto my face, "Get out of our classroom! We don't need no Iraqi spies inhere!"
I have no Iraqi blood in me. It's at this moment that Ilearned that that wasn't it. As I waited for my teacher in that lonely hallway, Ilearned many things about life.
As I grew older, I could define what Ilearned more accurately. As time progressed, so did maturity levels (my peersbecame sensitive toward the feelings of others), which decreased or increased theamount of harrassment I received. The fact that the way people reacted and wereaffected by me changed proportionately to maturity levels and age, shows me thatit was all them and not me. They were the variable. The rate at which I was madefun of depended on the rate at which the students had emotionallymatured.
I learned that what people said didn't matter. I realized thereason people made fun of me was to hold onto their own self-esteem and makethemselves feel better. This simple fact is what helped me regain my self-esteem. Inoticed that if people were going to bother me, yet not take the time to gettheir facts straight, they didn't matter. The guy who pushed me out of the classwas a minority himself, but did it so the others would like him.
All inall, having people be racist against me was a large price to pay for the valuablelesson I learned. While you may see all the reinforcement the harasser gets, itdoesn't make it right. It always hurts someone. I learned never to takeadvantages of another's weaknesses. c
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.