Last week, my thirteen year-old sister’s Middle School received a bomb threat. Thankfully, it was just a prank. During my tenure at Loganville High School, we also received bomb threats. However, my experiences and my sister’s experiences were totally different. My school got threatened BEFORE 9/11/2001. My sister’s school got threatened right after the Fort Hood Shootings. Bomb threats are nothing new to public schools in America. They’re very serious, but most of the time they’re just pranks to get out of taking tests or what-have-you. And that’s exactly how I remember them: nonthreatening. My sister, on the other hand, felt very different about them.
My thirteen-year-old sister was harassed and made-fun-of by many of the other students at her school. Their first response to the bomb threat? It must have been my sister because she is Arab and Muslim. A couple of students even approached her directly, calling her a “Muslim Terrorist” and a “Bitch”. Okay, so maybe the second name is just something kids do – but the first one is very troubling. My sister came home that night, crying her eyes out, because the negative perceptions of Islam have gotten so mainstream and universally accepted that even school children are spreading them. I really wished my sister hadn’t experienced that ridicule, but it’s something that many American Muslims are experiencing.