While the world changed on September 11th, 2001, my world changed the following day on September 12th. Stopping by a local coffee shop on my way into work, I was getting back into my car when a large truck slammed on his breaks blocking my car. He rolled down his window, offered an offensive gesture, and sped away before I understood what was happening.
Quickly, I thought to myself, “What had I done? Did I cut him off in traffic? No, I had been in the coffee shop for the last fifteen minutes. Was he in the coffee shop? Did I take his coffee by mistake? No, I remember him pulling into the parking lot from the street. What in the world was going on?” Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. My brown hair. My brown eyes. My dark skin. He assumed I was of Arab descent. He assumed I was Muslim. He assumed I was approving of the tragedy of the previous day.
Immediately, I began to feel outrage. How could someone make such sweeping speculations? How could someone be so obtuse to think just because of my skin color and features I somehow was supportive of terrorism? How could I not see that this kind of attitude and ideology was all around me? How could I not see that at times I was guilty of making those same sweeping speculations?
Indeed, the world changed on September 11th, 2001, but my world changed at that moment. May we never assume and speculate about someone by the color of their skin, the religion they practice, or the name they are called. When we begin to make these assumptions, be prepared, because there is always someone else willing to make an assumption about you.