Have Faith That The Right Thing Will Happen

, , , , , , | Learning | April 8, 2019

(I was bullied terribly through all of public school and high school. I was short, got glasses at a young age, and was raised very religious. My particular faith was not common where I grew up. Bullies liked to pick on this, but often didn’t know enough about my faith to be accurate. This story is one particularly bad and ignorant example. Although I am not Muslim, some students take to calling me “Muslim” as some kind of derogatory nickname. I finally get the courage to discuss the problem with my teacher, who agrees to sit down with me and the two worst bullies. For context, we are all male, and this is eighth grade.)

Me: “They won’t stop calling me names. They call me ‘Muslim’ as if it’s my name.”

Teacher: “What do you mean? Are you a Muslim?”

Me: “No. But they keep saying things like, ‘I don’t want to work with Muslim,’ or, ‘Don’t let Muslim talk to us.’”

Teacher: *to other students* “Why would you call him that?”

Student #1: *making up a desperate excuse* “We thought he really was a Muslim.”

Student #2: *playing along* “Yeah, we thought he was one, so how can it be bad?”

Me: “I told you both repeatedly that I am not, and you’re using it as an insult, and to exclude me.”

(There are a few minutes of he-said-she-said.)

Teacher: “Okay, [Student #1] and [Student #2], stop calling him that from now on. You can all go now.”

(The other students run out of the office quickly, but I stay behind a moment.)

Me: *verge of tears* “So, that’s it? Months of teasing, and you’re not going to do anything.”

Teacher: “Well… they thought you were a Muslim, so…”

Me: “Shouldn’t that actually make it worse?”

(The next day, my teacher is talking to another teacher as I pass by in the hallway. I know that [Teacher #2]’s husband is the same faith that I am. I say this as I walk by:)

Me: *to [Teacher #2]* “Out of the way, Muslim!”

Teacher #2: “How dare you?! That’s the rudest thing I’ve ever heard! Principal’s office, now!”

Me: “It’s okay. I thought you were really a Muslim—“ *locks eyes with my teacher* “—so that makes it okay, right, [Teacher]?”

(My teacher looked super embarrassed as I completely walked away, but from then on, [Teacher #2] would give me knowing looks, and she defended me from bullies the rest of the year. She must have asked my teacher what I meant. I can only imagine that conversation.)

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