“Those pictures are bomb, girl. Send them to me, please,” I told my friend Michelle as I put on my backpack right after having one of the mini photoshoots I have with my friends wherever I go. I can’t help it. I love the camera. We walked to the end of the street, downtown Boston filled with brownstone walls, big historic names and affluent residences. I gave one more glimpse at the Museum of African American History that we just left for a class assignment.
I loved my African Diaspora and the World class but I did not expect to go on field trips. Nonetheless, I was excited to explore Boston as a native New Yorker. I guess it was worthwhile because our assignment was about the renowned Frederick Douglass, the most photographed African-American man of his time.
I was cheesing with contentment, unfortunately, in a country where your skin color usually defines how people see you.
Frederick Douglass made me proud for being understood, something that I struggled with
my whole entire life, especially now as a Muslim Black Woman at a predominantly white
As I checked the update on Uber, my friend and I decided to walk even faster to our
designated pick up spot. To kill time we decided to do what every teenage girl would do, we started Snapchatting with filters. Suddenly a huge red car turned around the corner. Something was wrong. I frantically clicked on the Uber app to match the car that was coming our way.
“That’s weird,” I said, “the car that had pulled up looked nothing like the Petite Blue Kia Forte on the app.”
This huge brand new red car dramatically pulled over nearly missing our feet. Without hesitation, we immediately jumped back, just barely missing the lamp post behind us. Gruesome questions clouded my mind. I had no preparation for what came next.
The driver who appeared to be a young white male gradually lowered the huge black windows. I
looked at my friend straight in the eyes, frightened for our lives. Another white male dressed like
a “trust fund baby” placed his elbow outside of the car and leaned over and to my surprise, he
uttered, “F–k you! Go back to your country!” while he stuck up his middle fingers.
Shocked, I opened my mouth, but dared not say a thing. Frantic, I looked down at my long brown skirt over to my feet but it dared not budge. Fire. I wanted to scream, shout at them to come out of the car to fight me but the flames went to ashes. I was hopeless. No reaction but numbness. My eyes were forced open with window cages as I couldn’t do anything but wash out the ashes with tears.
The two slowly drove away like villains satisfied with shattering the content black girl.
Suddenly my friend grabbed my hand and directed me inside our Uber, but my eyes couldn’t get
off the car that just locked me away.
Fear. Anger. Frustration. Confusion rolled as steaming tears down my face. I finally closed my
eyes shut. BOOM. The cages locked, my mind twirling with confusion as if a tornado just hit.
I felt attacked, humiliated, bullied. But most of all, I felt misunderstood.
I am an exceptional student. I was in the Emerging Leaders Program. I was on the African Dance
Team. I had a great social life. I am a first-generation college student, the first to attend college
in my household. I worked on campus, had great grades and I had to figure things out on my
own. If all of that, then why me?
I was lost. Just asking to be found.
“Go back to your country!” When I first came to the United States at the age of ten, many people bullied my non-American accent and looks. It was in college that I realized that people come from all different walks of life. That day showed me that not everyone is going to accept you for who you are. Always tell yourself that you are worth the good.