My daughter was two weeks from turning one on September 11, 2001. She is one of them. An Arab (pronounced with a Texas drawl: A-Rab). A camel jockey. A rag head. She is Turkish and Saudi and Egyptian. She is not white like me, her mother, who is also mixed race. Far from Aryan.
When those people killed our people, I automatically went into that maternal protection mode where assumptions are borne. I assumed people would be cruel, and so said cruelty was magnified. I heard an elderly man say, “nuke ‘em all.” But I did not hear his wife say, “But most are innocent.” I heard a co-worker call my daughter Osama’s niece. But I did not hear my boss call her beautiful.
A few weeks ago two boys killed and maimed our people again. I wrote on my social networking site that extremists taint all religions. Islam was not the problem, you see, because mental illness and hatred cannot be classified unto a specific belief system. Or race. My daughter is not Muslim, but still it was my duty to defend her.
This Sunday, as my husband baptized our daughter, this beautiful brown-eyed child of God, Allah, Yahweh, I suddenly had an epiphany. She does not need me to protect her. By protecting her, I am only amplifying the prejudice that I fear. I realized that, by defending my daughter’s Arab bloodline, I am the only one oppressing her.