Article Op-Ed

Dear White People

Dear White People

Author Shahrukh Arif by

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Dear White People,

Recently I’ve noticed that a lot of you seem to be on the fence about removing the Confederate battle flag in South Carolina. Personally, I don’t blame you. Everyone creates an opinion based on their life experiences and you may not have many negative memories associated with the flag – but I have.

You’ve probably never been called a “sand nigger”, “towel head”, or “terrorist” every day while walking off the school bus by white kids who have shirts featuring the battle flag – I have. You’ve probably never been told that “we kill you and everyone in your country” by someone who has the flag on their truck – I have. You’ve probably never seen someone driving by your church and have them stop, get out of the car, and come on to the property only to spit on the ground and then drive away – I have.

You’ve probably never dealt with the anxiety of hoping no one does anything to your wife when another white person commits a crime. You’ve probably never had to laugh at terrible jokes about your ethnicity, skin color, and religion just because you felt you had to fit in. You’ve probably never had to spend a lunch hour at work listening to people talk about how “violent” the people from your place of birth are. I have and minorities of all sorts around the country have experienced more.

Now, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me or for anyone else. That’s not a constructive emotion. I am an adult and I can handle myself when confronted with ignorance - whether by defending myself verbally, physically, or slapping that punk kid on the bus to show him the nerdy, brown kid won’t just lie down and take a beating. I want you all to take step back and try to understand my perspective. Understand the perspective of millions of minorities in America and the experiences we’ve had that we can link to the flag. All we want is an America where our children can grow up with a little less baggage than we grew up with – and physically removing the flag is a step in that direction for us. In the end, isn’t moving past these issues and staying unified part of makes America America?

Respectfully yours and a proud American citizen,

Shahrukh Arif

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