Being a Minority In a Southern West Virginia Public School

February 15 2017, as I walked to my 5th period class, I was behind a group of individuals, who usually attempt to tease or harass me, but today was different. As I walked I heard a fairly loud voice go “Hey suicide bomber!”, shocked I continued walking and nearly made it to the door without any confrontation. However I heard a sarcastic chanting of the words “ Allah Hu Akbar” followed by more racial remarks. I rushed to turn around and confront the individual, as I did a series of pushes ensued before it was split up by an administrator. I walk into the office of the administrator and began explaining what had happened, also mentioning that this was not the first instance of religious discrimination I had endured within the walls of their school, but certainly a notable one. One thing that has resonated wth me is, what if I and a group of fellow Muslims were to yell the words “Suicide bomber” and “Allahuakbar” in a public school? One word- prosecution.

The year before during a Model United Nations session, my cousin and I had chose to represent Pakistan, it being our family’s culture and heritage. As the session proceeded we were abruptly halted by a loud voice coming from behind us “Why are these two even in here? They’re the terrorists!”, the room silenced in shock; the teacher had called us terrorists in front of an entire Model United Nations session. After the situation subsided, I thought it would certainly be the last incident of that severity I would have to endure before I graduated, I was wrong.

In a school with a 0.5% (8/1344) Muslim population (yes half a percent), why is there nothing being done to ensure minorities like these their safety and security when they walk into the jurisdiction of Woodrow Wilson High School? It seems to me that religious harassment is a recurring problem at WWHS, but why have there been no initiatives to secure us minorities during a time of extreme racial tension? The problem persists, after every negative incident in the name of Islam circulates in the media, we don’t go the following day in the actual fear of a hateful response. After every religious harassment, we miss school, again in fear of an unsolicited retaliation.

And you may ask what did I get? Two days suspension (might I add my record was clean before that day), for standing up for my religion to a group of kids who found it funny to collectively disrespect it. The others, well none would admit to it besides one, so it was not written off as religious harassment, but simply “disrespectful conduct”. We received the same punishment: suspension.

(Later did I find out that one of the persons handling my case had direct ties to these students. The three offenders were called in and questioned, as well as two of their friends who were not present during the incident. A total of five against me, I inquired if said administrator had called in the witness I named, I was ignored and it was disregarded.  I inquired with my witness the following day; he was never called in for questioning (he is also a fellow Muslim). The administrator stated only one confessed and the others had denied what each other had done, of course if you only call in the offenders’ close group of friends they will all support what one other says.  A strong conflict of interest if you were to ask me.)

26 thoughts on “Being a Minority In a Southern West Virginia Public School

  1. I also went to a small school in West Virginia. I am mixed and had to endure a lot of teasing and ignorant remarks. I remember one time in high school my teacher made a remark about me not having a green card and to go back across the border. The whole class laughed including myself but I was so embarrassed. I had guys not date me and girls not be my friend because of the complexion of my skin. It’s a sad world that we live in. Stand up for yourself and your rights. Remember that there are many people who love you, don’t let the haters bring you down and don’t let your actions resemble their ignorance. Put a smile on your face, hold your head high, and kill them with your kindness and intellect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Imala, great job for standing up to the haters on behalf of this student. You, and other like you, are the future and, I have to say, the future is looking brighter with each supportive post I read on here!

      Like

  2. Power to you for providing a voice to not only the 0.5% of Muslim students at Woodrow, but bringing attention to this issue that many minority students face in public schools. West Virginia needs a change in it’s acceptance of diversity, and it starts with a voice. From one minority to another, stay strong and keep the movement going!!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi, I go to a school much farther south of Woodrow Wilson, and I am both Filipino and Catholic. You are not alone in this world of hate, persectution, and political factions. Keep your head up, and thank you for this eye-opening read!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am so saddened to read that even teachers sometimes contribute to this hatred and unkindness. Please know that there are many people who believe all people should be treated with respect and kindness.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I grew up in Southern West Virginia in the late 90’s/early 2000’s and was slated to go to Shady High before my parents decided to move us to Florida for better educational opportunities. I’m half Hispanic and half Italian and was the darkest kid with the kinkiest hair in the entire school and I was teased often. I got asked weekly if my mother was a maid and my father was a “yard guy” and was told that I too should go back to my own country (I was born in Maryland). These people are buffoons who will never be able to fully integrate into today’s mixed-culture society and will therefore remain in Southern WV working minimum wage jobs for the rest of their lives. While you, an eloquent speaker/writer with a great strength that others don’t possess, will continue to advance yourself and will go on to do amazing things one day.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Not all of us that were born and grew up here tolerate this kind of crap. I’ll be making a phone call to that school today and voicing my opinion. I’m also going to share your story and I have a lot of friends that will probably do the same. We can’t let this kind of shit happen without challenging it. I will not sit by while others are persecuted for their race, religious beliefs, etc.
    #RESIST~

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure just how much “help” you expected to get but I’m thinking your Principal is getting a lot of phone calls and WV ACLU has been contacted on your behalf. You may get some backlash but the only way to combat this is head on. You can PM me through Facebook if you get any harassment from teachers or administrators over this outcry if you want.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. 2001-2003 I went to Sherman High School in Boone County. I played football and tried to fit in but I didn’t and never would. I didn’t and still do not believe in God. I was an atheist living in one of the most religious sections of WV. Once people found out I was ridiculed daily, bullied physically and mentally and I thought it would never end. Unlike you I did not stand up for myself. I was afraid that if I did, it would come at me even worse. I left Boone County and moved to Texas with my father and never had another problem.

    Today, I am a veteran of the US Navy, a husband to a beautiful wife, who is an active duty soldier and a filmmaker.

    Adam@beerbackwardsfilms.com is where you can reach me if you ever need to talk.

    By standing up to your oppressors you are already stronger than I was. I am here for you. Never be ashamed of who you are and don’t let others tell you otherwise.

    Thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy to see you seem to have some allies coming out here in comments, I hope those students will be brave enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with you at school when needed and to use their privilege to ensure things change. I tweeted this post and CCed the ACLU of WV, in case they aren’t already on the case. I will also be emailing the school. Stay safe and good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s