As I write this, I’m also reading an article about how a 19-year-old girl was attacked at her local hospital. She was wearing her hijab and a 57-year-old man came up from behind her and proceeded to punch her repeatedly in the back of her head. Why?
The article doesn’t go into the details as to why, but the assumption is because of Islamophobia. Islamophobia is this prejudice and fear that because someone is Muslim that they’re automatically going to be a terrorist.
Islamophobia exists and it is the cruelest and most unkind form of racism. Samira Ahmed covers it perfectly in Love, Hate, and Other Filters.
Here’s more about the story
A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
The first half of this book actually spoke to me similarly to American Panda. It’s the story about a young woman on the brink of the next phase of her life and wanting to go to another city to do it. She wants to study film in New York while her parents want her to study law in Chicago. This is a story that relates to my life and the lives of many other people. We all have dreams and sometimes those dreams aren’t within reach because of family obligations or even because you wish to respect your parents’ wishes for you. It’s a totally relatable story.
However, the second half of the book is something I can’t relate to. I can’t relate to it because I’ve never experienced it. I’ve seen racism and prejudice, but my life has never been threatened. I’ve never had someone throw a rock at me because they think I’m a terrorist. I’ve never had to worry that my family will be senselessly murdered because of my faith or our beliefs.
I’ve been treated poorly by people before. I’ve been told to go back to my own country. I’ve been catcalled in different Asian languages. I’ve been asked if I eat dog. However, despite all of the racist remarks I come across, I have never been threatened. I’ve never had to worry that my religious beliefs will cause me to get killed. I’ve never had hate thrust against me where someone ripped clothes off my body or believed my father to be a terrorist.
I think this is the biggest takeaway I got from this book. It’s the fact that Maya is just like anyone else in this world. She’s got a family that loves her and wants the best for her and she’s trying to fight for what she wants. How can we hate someone who practically is you?
I mean, Maya’s parents are dentists. When I think of dentists, I think of Hermione Granger’s parents. They’re kind and gentle people who work on people’s teeth for a living. How would a couple of dentists hurt someone?
This is what I don’t understand. How does an individual fill their hearts with so much hate that they feel compelled to take action on it? How does someone pick up that gun and shoot kids? How do we live in a world where people rationalize these thoughts and find it as the reason to harm others?
What I also love reading about this book is that it doesn’t feel like you’re reading this from the brain of a teenager. It feels mature and older even though she’s a young person. I think that’s what’s great about books like this. While it’s a younger person’s voice, you can always find something to reflect back on and sometimes younger people are older than us.
- Hardcover, 281 pages
- Publisher: Soho Teen
- Rating: 4/5 stars