LOS ANGELES – ANEESAH can still see the flag in her fourth-grade classroom.
“It’s how they taught us to be American,” she says, “by saying the Pledge of Allegiance.”
But Aneesah says she didn’t feel very American – or very accepted – in that room. She felt scared.
Aneesah was the only Muslim student at her Southern California school in 2009, and her family was likely one of the only Muslim families in their Rancho Cucamonga neighborhood. With some encouragement from her father, Aneesah was excited to wear a hijab on her first day of school. But the insecurities started to build as soon as she entered the classroom.
Aneesah’s teacher hurled several discriminatory comments at her, and eventually ripped the hijab from Aneesah’s head. The friends who had wanted to learn more about Aneesah’s headscarf earlier that day turned their backs on her, chasing her and calling her names at recess….