We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

← Back to all stories
Photo ofSara El Mahil

I was born in America and have lived in Massachusetts my whole life. And I have always felt like an outsider. I’ve lived in Chelsea for about 11 years. Majority of the people here are Hispanic, I’m Moroccan. I have met 3 other Moroccans that go to my school. I don’t speak or understand Spanish while everyone else does. In addition, the majority of my friends are Hispanic. One moment in my life where I really felt like an outsider was in 8th grade. My school had added a new specialist class which was Spanish. Since, almost everyone spoke Spanish, the students that didn’t speak Spanish were put at a table to sit together. One of my friends who spoke Spanish sat with us and told the teacher she was going to help us. The teacher didn’t teach the class the basics of Spanish for beginners, for the students who didn’t know any Spanish. During class the teacher would speak in Spanish, the videos were in Spanish, and I understood nothing. Sometimes in class the teacher would say something funny in Spanish and everyone would laugh. And it was awkward for me because I didn’t understand. I felt isolated from the rest of the students in that class. If it wasn’t for my friend who spoke and understood Spanish. And helped me with my classwork. I would have been completely confused and lost in that class. Even though I have lived in Massachusetts and I am a citizen I feel like an outsider in my city. This is because the majority of people are Hispanic, Christian or Catholic. I am a Moroccan Muslim which is hard especially in America and with many people being Islamophobic. Since, majority of people are Christian or Catholic the country likes to discriminate other religions especially Islam, and it’s not fair or right. Schools are closed on Christian holidays like Christmas. But, not on Islamic holidays; Eid Al Adha and Eid Al Fitr. I would at least miss two days of school if Eid landed on a school day. All public schools should close schools on religious holidays to respect everyone’s religion. So that students don’t have to miss school and ruin their attendance record due to their religious holidays. Public schools are excluding other religious holidays and it isn’t fair to those students and families. Recently the admin did say the Muslim students absences will be excused on Eid Al Fitr. This doesn’t solve the problem, students will still fall a day behind and will have to catch up. 

Living in America as a hijabi is also hard. Before when I went out no one knew I was Muslim, unless if I went out with my mom and sister because they wore the hijab. After I started wearing the hijab everywhere I went I got stares. In my head I was thinking, do I have something on my outfit or my face, and then I forget that I am visibly representing Islam and people are Islamophobic. So many times, I just want to say “What are you looking at, but I can’t because people already hate Muslims don’t want to give them another reason. I choose to be the better person and ignore them but it is very hard. I can’t go anywhere without getting stared at or getting dirty looks from people. All of this just because I’m wearing a scarf on my head. It’s funny how people are so oppressed with women wearing hijab but Gucci models wear scarfs around their head as a fashion statement. No one is mad at Gucci for making their models wear scarves. They are applauding Gucci. I am tired of being an outsider in my own city and country. I am a Moroccan Muslim female and I’m proud to be those things, I just wish it was easier to be those things in America and in Massachusetts. 

© Sara El Mahil. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.