My Life | Teen Ink

My Life MAG

March 15, 2021
By Jammy_Ar SILVER, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Jammy_Ar SILVER, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Everyone knows about Christmas. Everyone has an idea of what Hanukkah is. But do people know what Eid is? Or how there are two of them? Do they even know the basic concept of Ramadan? Islam is the second most practiced religion in the world, and the third in the United States. In the state of Wisconsin, only 1 percent of people who live here are Muslim. And I’m a part of that 1 percent.

Out of all my years in school, my freshman year's social studies class was the only class where that actually taught Islam. However, it wasn’t like how I imagined it. I imagined a simple lecture, or a research assignment, just like the other religions that were taught. But instead, we watched a video.

That video was about a Christan man who “converted to Islam” for a month. It sounded informative; however, the class was behind and instead of actually finishing the video, the teacher only showed the first 20 minutes.

The part where the man was explaining all the stereotypes.

Terrorist. War. 9/11. Evil.

Finals were next week and he didn’t have time to show the rest of the video. What a way to start the unit. What a way to show a religion that means Peace.

But the next few days were just as bad....

“Jamilah, please stop me if I say anything incorrect.”

“Jamilah, could you explain this specific part of Islam?”

“Do you know if Osama Bin Laden was Sunni or Shia, Jamilah?”

I felt like I was being interrogated in that class. But he was teaching my religion, shouldn’t I be happy?

I wasn’t.

I told him that. I told him I didn’t like being called out. I told him that he shouldn’t have said that and that if he was going to teach something that he should be confident in what he was teaching. But nothing changed.

I regret not doing more. I regret not telling the administration. I regret not speaking up.

Never again. I told myself.

And so I promoted respectful ways to ask questions. Spoke upon injustice. Attended protests. I did something. I am doing something. And I will continue doing something.

So that next year I started a club. A club to encourage change and promote inclusion and education of different cultures. A club where people come together and talk about their experiences that were similar to mine. Instead of complaining about those experiences, we put them into action. We’re pushing to not have that video being shown. We’re pushing for more cultures to be taught in different classes. We’re pushing for teachers to be aware of their comments and words. We’re doing something.

The summer of 2020 sparked the beginning of a new civil rights movement. The movement brought out so many people protesting and marching to the streets to this day. It all started with the brutal death of a black man. My first protest was in Brookfield on June 4th. I stood up with others and used my voice. I spoke up on injustice and did something my freshman self couldn’t do. I did something. And when college comes around. I will continue on speaking out and doing as much as I can.

The author's comments:

I wrote this as my college essay, talking about my life as one of the only minorities in an all-white school and how I overcame that disadvantage by starting up something super important to me. 

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