Giving Compass’ Take:
• In this Hechinger Report post, Engy Gadelmawla, a Facing History and Ourselves alumna, describes her childhood dealing with Islamophobia — and details ways that education can provide tools to stop hate.
• What is the role of philanthropy in this effort? How can funders support school programs that push back against biases and promote equity among all students?
Two years after 9/11, when I was 6 years old, my family moved from Cairo to a predominantly white neighborhood in central New Jersey.
It was all too common for the kids in the area to make comments like, “Hey Engy, don’t blow up the building.”
I grew up being called a terrorist. People around the country were greatly impacted by 9/11, especially my neighbors who had felt this act of terror firsthand. On its anniversary, my fifth-grade class honored a moment of silence — one that was interrupted by a student asking me, “Why are you being silent? You probably don’t even care.”
Kids can be cruel, but what hurt most was the feeling of being excluded from the community. Why wasn’t I allowed to remember those who had been mercilessly murdered, the families who had lost their loved ones or the first responders who had sacrificed their lives?
What made me so different from the other kids?
The discrimination I felt was isolating and hurtful — especially at such a young age. It made me feel that I didn’t want to be Muslim. I didn’t want to be Egyptian. I just wanted to be Engy from Watchung, New Jersey, a typical American teenager.
It wasn’t until my first day of high school, in history, that a window of understanding was opened for me. The teacher used a curriculum from Facing History and Ourselves, an educational nonprofit that provides teachers with tools to engage their students in examining bigotry.
Read the full article about how education can help fight hate by Engy Gadelmawla at The Hechinger Report.
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