Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

My Friends This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
My passport says I'm American. My heart says differently. When I was 11 my family moved to North Africa. This is my home, and it's going to be so hard to leave when I graduate. It's here where I learned who I am and who I will be. It's where I went on my first date. It's where I truly grew up and where my heart will be for a long time.

Now, not many people know this, but North Africa is not like the rest of the continent. The people are of Arab and Berber descent (and a little French and Spanish too). They are Muslims. The women wear scarves, or hijab, on their heads, and the men wear those little red hats called fezzes. When people wear these traditional clothes in the States, they receive stares and even a few fierce looks. But for me, when I walk down the street, it's normal. When I'm in the U.S. and I see a woman wearing a hijab, I get excited and think, Maybe she's from North Africa!

One of the things that gets on my nerves is the stereotype that all Arabs are terrorists. Ever since 9/11, crime shows on TV such as “NCIS” and “CSI” have depicted Arabs and Muslims as the bad guys. This really gets under my skin.

Ninety percent of my friends are Muslim. They're all Arab. Sure, they're not from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia, but they are Arab at heart. They have Arab ancestors and celebrate Muslim holidays and fast at Ramadan.

When I go to the U.S. and meet new people, the first thing they ask is where I'm from. Amazingly, some have the nerve to bash Arabs to my face – “Isn't it scary to live so close to them?” “Aren't you afraid they'll bomb your house?” or worse, they don't say anything, but you can see it on their faces.

What's happened in the Middle East has tainted Americans' views of Muslims. They think they're all terrorists who hate Americans.

The kids I go to school with at home are amazing. They genuinely care about people. They love gossip and American TV shows. They listen to techno music and dress like Western teenagers. They laugh and cry. They kiss in greeting and aren't afraid to give hugs. They go to the beach and eat at McDonald's. They don't sit in their rooms plotting their next suicide bombing.

I wasn't born in North Africa, but it's my home. I love these people. And when others assume the worst about those I love, it makes me mad. I hate it when people judge those they think are “weird” or “different” without really knowing them, without any basis for their claims. If there's one thing I'm passionate about, it's people disrespecting my friends. It's not hard to see my point of view on this matter. What's yours?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

apocalyptigirl said...
Sept. 11, 2010 at 8:51 pm
I have lived through sort of the same problem, having been raised in Germany. People have called me a Naz.i and a rac.ist to my face, jokingly and also seriously. It doesn't exactly help that I look extremely German. This one girl I played soccer with had this huge grudge against me, once pushing me down and grabbing the ball as she ran off calling me a bunch of names...People are dumb. And the media doesn't help; of course people are suspicious of arabs if the media constantly portrays them as ... (more »)
 
Ashy The Choir Nerd said...
Feb. 15, 2010 at 12:58 am
I really enjoyed reading this. It was very well written. Keep up the good work!
 
Site Feedback