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It all started in 2000 when my family and I migrated to America. It was our first time here. My dad had made on and off travel to make money and send it back home to us in Yemen. The plane ride was the worst experience I ever experienced as an adolescent, but knew it would all be worth it as we got one hour closer to reaching the American dream. When we stepped foot out the plane, I looked up and saw the 6AM dark blue sky. It was one of the coolest experiences I had encountered. As a child growing up in the Middle East, all you see when looking up is the red-hot sun and blank white sky. The smell was of fresh roses freshly picked from a flower field just as if it was the natural smell of the Bay Area. Even though America was this big, beautiful, diverse, safe place to raise your family without trouble, it was hard to fend for my family our second year here as a 7 year old because of 9/11.
My mom did nothing to deserve eye rolls and mugs when out buying clothes or simply taking me to the park. We were no longer able to make friends and even our neighbors turned against us and tried moving away from us because they felt unsafe. But what they fail to see is that what happened that day is a normal occurrence to happen back where I’m from and we came to America to escape the risk of injury or even worse, death. If anything, we were on the same side of the people who kept avoiding us. Instead of getting to know us, they judged. Not only did it strip Arabs and Muslims of their safety, but also they had to blend in. Arab women started dressing like Americans so they wouldn’t be singled out as Arabs, and Arab men legally changed their names into American names like David, Sam, Alex, and plenty more. It was like the Arab race no longer existed in America. But that wasn’t going to change my family. We stuck with our names. We cared less of the chances of risk we put on ourselves being outcasts and noticed.
We went on with our lives like it was another day in Yemen and that’s all it was to us. Luckily, we later got closer and good support with the Latino community because they were also minorities. We blended easily with each other and had each other’s backs because at the end of the day, we are all trying to live the American dream and provide for our families here and back home. We later moved to San Leandro from Daily City, where all of the drama took place, to live with our cousins so we can be closer to each other during this hard time. And also because of the big population of Latino and Arabs living there at the time. 2 years later, my sister was born and we forgot all about the past and focused on the future. Ever since her birth, we were finally able to live this American dream in peace.