by Ameena Khan
To the stranger who stopped me today while I was out with my friend and our kids at the museum:
Before asking me what I think about ISIS, and then implying oh-so-politely that I am not American, please know the following: my first breath was of the air in Gainesville FL, my first steps were on the ground in Gainesville FL, my first solid foods were tasted in Gainesville FL, I was educated in Gainesville FL from preschool through grad school, I spent my summers swimming in the FL springs and floating down the Ichetucknee, I spent my springtimes playing in the warm FL rain, I spent my free time at my friends’ houses eating popsicles and watching Nickelodeon. I have no connection to the violent political ideology that is terrorizing so many people (Muslims, more than any other group of people), and I have no answer when asked what you “as an American” can do.
Perhaps today I was not in the best of form when we spoke, and so I apologize if I seemed upset or was unable to respond eloquently. I didn’t expect you to ask the questions that you did when you wandered over to us, and I wasn’t prepared. On top of that, I am tired. I am tired of being expected to apologize every single day for something horrific and unimaginable that someone else does, I am tired of being expected to be a walking political science lecturer, I am tired of being held to a standard that I usually fall short of. I am just tired.
So, I am sorry that I could not give you the answers you were seeking, but next time may I suggest that you save your questions for an appropriate venue, rather than asking a random stranger who is with her friend and their children playing in a museum.
Editor’s Note: It should be noted that the person who asked about ISIS was a polite older woman. Inappropriate questions need not be aggressive to be offensive. A lesson for us all.