A kid in Texas
I was 12 years old and in class when I heard that something bad was going on in New York City. My teacher put on the news and other kids were talking about family they had in the city, wondering if they were ok and getting permission to call their parents. Some kids got pulled out of school early. I was pretty sheltered. I knew after the attack that the Taliban had taken credit and that people were mad at Islamic folks or anyone who appeared to be of Arab descent. However, I did not understand why folks were blaming them. Now as an adult, I see a lot of parallels between then and now. It makes me feel like the world is still just a bad place. Learning about the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi as an adult this year really crystalized this for me. I felt devastated, like I and the world had failed this innocent man.
The xenophobia, racism, jingoism is still here. Violent speech and hate crimes against oppressed people is still happening. It has always happened.
People justify their hate by dehumanizing others, by pointing to their religion, skin, where they come from, or who they love as reasons for why their safety and feelings do not matter as much as theirs. As a child I did not really feel the full impact of all of the lives lost on 9/11 as I was not personally affected. For me the things that came after made a bigger impression. Like the knowledge that someone who looked like they were a man of Arab descent was more likely to be pulled aside by TSA for a bag inspection because it was thought that they could be a suicide bomber. I think things like this influenced me to learn more about Islam, learn a little Arabic, and study for a short time in Morocco. I think similar feelings of guilt and the desire to connect and understand drove me to read things like "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" by Robin DiAngelo in reaction to the emotional turmoil I felt about the aftermath of George Floyd's death. As an adult I am only just beginning to understand my privilege as a cis white woman and my part in the system of racism and white supremacy.