As I woke on Tuesday morning to the exclamations of my suitemates, I felt just like yet another barely cognizant voyeur of the surreal events that were unfolding that day.
Though my mind was stretched and feebly attempting to process the day?s events, I gave in to the drone of the television, occasionally tuning in to listen. I questioned myself repeatedly throughout the day as to what my own reaction was, as if my subconscious stubbornly chose this horrendously inconvenient time to abandon me.
While footage of the blast and subsequent crumbling World Trade Center towers was looped to the point of meaninglessness, I caught a glimpse of an elderly Sikh man covered in gray dust collapse to the street as people rushed by.
Unlike those touched on a more personal level through close family and friends, this was my first graspable emotional link to the destruction.
As the day melted into the next, I was finally able to get in contact with my parents despite the seemingly endless ?all circuits busy? message. Before my father and I said goodbye, he said, ?this is a time to stay with your white friends,? as well as warning me about both crowded public places and being alone.
It took a moment for his statement to sink in, and at that moment, I had never been so acutely aware of my morphology and the implications thereof. Then, I first feared for the Muslim community, not realizing that amidst all the talk of war, retribution and revenge, ignorance is blind to the differences of inner religious beliefs, and can easily recognize those who look different.
Almost immediately, reports of beaten, shot and detained Sikhs ? most easily distinguished by turbans, beards and long hair ? started pouring in by a non-profit organization that monitors such events, as well as local news organizations.
Such news was not big enough to pierce breaking national news on unfolding information and speculation.
My first reaction was to exclaim, ?But the Sikhs are not Muslims. Why are people attacking us?? Immediately, I realized the gross folly of my statement.
Regardless of motive, these are ignorant, mindless and painful attacks on innocent Muslims, Sikhs and others who fit the general stereotype of the pictures flashed so often by the speculative media.
More and more information about related events became available which ranged from seemingly minor incidents, such as the window of our local temple being broken, to UR students being threatened, to more serious attacks on a national scope including murders and beatings.
This has not happened only with Sikhs, but we are the example I am most familiar with.
Attacks propagated by ignorance against innocent people only serve to cause more pain and dishonor those who perished on Tuesday.
I implore the communities to be aware of, and to do as much as possible to stop the ignorance, which only serves to further this week?s already immense tragedy.
Dhadialla is a junior and can be reached at email@example.com.