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Embracing Who I Am

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Embracing who I am

There was a time when I hated the name I was given. Khadra. In the Arabic dictionary my name means green. In Somali my name is defined as lucky and fortunate. My name was so different. And being different was not always accepted, just like me. I wanted a name that was more suitable for a girl living in California, something like the name: Britney. Britney was in the 3rd grade, I envied her for her popularity; she was both intelligent and beautiful. Every girl wanted to be her and all the boys wanted to be with her. Something that always haunted me during that same year I had a crush on a boy named Victor, who told me that he didn't want to be my boyfriend because I had a "weird" name; he said it was hard for him to pronounce.

Many of my past memories were spent crying to my mom when I arrived home from school because the kids at school would make fun of me and call me names like; "Khadra-lateral" and "Khadra-cula" My mother would always tell me that my name wasn't who I was, I was who I wanted to be. I always ignored my mom because I felt as if she didn't understand my problems. My mother went to a school in a different country, where these kinds of names are more accepting.

Being Muslim involved a lot of religious acts, including wearing a veil to cover my hair and I was also not allowed to show any part of my body besides my face. I felt different not only by name but also by my looks. This made me more insecure about who I was. It was like adding fuel to the fire, which was already burning inside. After a few more months of being humiliated in the 3rd grade I thought my luck would change in the 4th grade, I was wrong. On a Tuesday morning after completing or daily D.O.L., I felt as if my world had stopped. Everything moved in slow motion, Ms. Swan (the teacher next door) urgently ran into our classroom and whispered into Mr. Williams (my 4th grade teacher) ear, you could tell by his expression that it wasn't good. He turned to our TV and changed the channel to the news and although the signal wasn't good and full of static, the message came across to us clearly. September 11, 2001 would then on be remembered as a day where the world would view the Middle East differently. The whole class turned to look at me; I was ashamed, scared, and confused. I had nothing to do with actions taken by the people that killed all those innocent lives, but yet I was already being judged.

A week after the incident I had rebelled against not only my parent's rules but also my religion's rules. My veil came off. I decided that I would put the veil back on when the time was right, if there ever was a right time. Unlike my name, it stuck with me just like my eyes, nose, and lips. It was who I was, my identity. It would stick with me forever.

Over the years I had come to realize that there were too many Britney's



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