Muslim Student Association, Uc Berkeley, America discussed on It's Been A Minute


From tell our listeners briefly what it's about Go back to where you came from and other helpful recommendations and how to become American Is about loving a country that doesn't always love you back And how the rest of us are both citizens and suspects us and them and how this country can turn on us on a dime But at the same time it's about how we can move forward as a multicultural country And I hope it is done with humor and it ends on earned hope not some hallmark a sugary confection but earned hope and the earned hope is by working through the challenges So that's the book Just one perspective my perspective but I tried to use my story as kind of a narrative spine to make a commentary about America and connect the dots for the rest of us The introduction of your book comes in hot You start by sharing some of the most offensive letters you've received from readers and viewers And then you write some snarky responses I'm wondering in real life how often do you respond to often racist hate mail or tweets That's a good question I get those emails every single day When I used to write in the comments section and articles my editors always used to turn off the comments section because they're like you don't want to read this And oftentimes it was benign stuff but it was because of who I am my name my ethnicity and my religion that all of a sudden I became a target I'm sure you get it all so you can sit here and talk about potato chips and somehow someone would make it like a racist That's how it is And you kind of take some dark humor with it and I think it depends on my mood and about once a week I'll respond to a go back to where you come from And if someone really spends a long three page emissive which they have then sometimes I have some fun with it and sometimes I share it with the public Because I feel like oftentimes we're asked to be like daffy duck get angry and upset but sometimes I want to be like Bugs Bunny you know If you really think about it right But as bunny's always chilling they're always after him but he always uses their traps against them and sometimes he dresses up as a girl and kisses them and then sometimes he just mocks them but he always gets the last laugh And I want to make sure I get the last laugh in the last word Yeah Bugs Bunny didn't work hard He worked smart There you go He was a smart bunny You know so much of your life changed on 9 11 And a big turning point in the book is that event and what it meant for you going forward I want to go back to that scene because it was very vivid for me as I read it Where were you when you found out about the attack 20 year old UC Berkeley senior undeclared in my pajamas woken up by my roommate in our apartment a mile away from UC Berkeley He knocks on the door and I'm sleeping He's like you gotta get up I'm like come on man It's freaking exhausted I stayed up all night playing NBA two K then ten minutes later I get another knock You really have to get up and see that something's happening So we're both in our pajamas blurry watching the tower on fire Maybe the pilot had a heart attack That's what happened He was trying to land the plane maybe a Laguardia something happened And then you saw the second plane go Once you saw the second plane that's when we realized something this was deliberate And right there and then you kind of do the minority prayer which all minorities know And the minority player goes something like this Please let it be a white guy And if you're white or self identifies white it's not because we want any harm to come to you going full circle with the beginning of this conversation We realize that when it's a white person all of whiteness is not convicted Well the white guy is like this lone wolf who was misunderstood you know Just a dude You know crazy dude did it You want to have white uncles and white aunties in your community having to like stand up like Uncle Sam with flags like waving in the air and saying I love America and let me prove my moderation and come to my churches and won't be investigation and surveillance and hearings right Like you won't be held you won't be interrogated or indicted and have to prove your loyalty or prove your whiteness But for the rest of us we're effed all of us collectively And then when they saw that on the scroll at the bottom suspected Osama bin Laden and Muslims that's when I remember I closed my eyes and I just realized things were going to get really bad And I was a member of this Muslim student association I was elected to the board And I joke that had Muslims known that 9 11 would happen these horrible conspiracy theories which we did not know because Muslims also died that day I would have joined the Indian student association and I would have learned how to do punga or whatever you do though Do not join the sick student association because that poor group got screwed First hate crime after 9 11 was a sick man in mason This shows you how stupid racism is 19 four and hijackers 15 from Saudi Arabia to from UAE one from Lebanon one from Egypt brought down the two towers killed 3000 people And so the first hate crime after America was in mesa Arizona where a white supremacist blamed a middle aged sick gas station owner balbir Singh for the violent acts of 19 foreign hijackers because he was brownskin had a beard and a turban and he was sick Bigots aren't nuanced This country lost its damn mine after 9 11 And so here I was a Muslim student association board member and I had Muslim women born and raised in America emailing me Should we go to school There are hate crimes We're afraid I had my first hate mail Just think about it I'm in California born and raised in the Bay Area to Pakistani immigrant parents and I am being blamed for the violent actions of 1940 hijackers And that's where it all began And I always tell people that was the baptism by fire That was the turning point the fork in the road That was the danger room simulation for the rest of my life and with the rest of my career For my generation You're listening to it's been a minute from NPR I'm Sam Sanders speaking with wajahat Ali We're talking about his new memoir It's called go back to where you came from You know you wrote about how much work you had to take on at Berkeley in the aftermath of 9 11 You and other students and the Muslim student association just took it upon yourself to do a lot of bridge building You hosted Friday prayers for the entire campus You held forums with all different kinds of speakers and groups And you said something that really stuck out to me about that experience and that year after 9 11 you said it was quote training ground an X-Men danger room simulation that would prepare you for the rest of your life Explain Yeah I mean you become overnight the Muslim firemen You become the Muslim walking Wikipedia You become the person if you're thrust in that spotlight where you have to be an expert on the drop of the dime on all things Muslim and Islam McGraw and Sharia are profit Muhammad Hakeem olajuwon Nan Hakeem not Hakeem three Hakeem everything Bollywood hummus Hamas like everything You know here I have this 20 year old undeclared student playing NBA two K next thing you know I'm giving speeches in front of 200 people And as I have the microphone and giving the speech I'm like why am I sitting here giving a speech What's happening And overnight you get thrust like our parents generation You get you know you get thrust into the moment right You have to meet the moment And you have to then play the stupid condemn Nathan game condemning violent accident by violent people you've never met And you've got to be perfect And if you're not perfect not only are you indicted by this nameless judge you're an executioner that 20 years after 9 11 still holds your loyalty aspect simply due to your ethnicity or religion it condemns this whole thing called Muslims and Islam Because after 9 11 the enemy became this thing called Islam It became a civilizational conflict between us and them I'm using the language of our elected leaders at that time The axis of evil And it wasn't just those who were Muslim and I'm glad you mentioned this earlier It was those who looked Muslim Sick Americans Indian Hindus Arab Christians right And so overnight you become an educator you become.

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