9/11 was a weird day for me. I was a sophomore in high school at the time, and as soon as I heard that a plane had crashed into the first tower, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, Oh God, I hope it wasn't Arabs. I'm three-fourths Palestinian and at times have a distinctly Arab cast to me. My last name is Rishmawy. Admittedly it was a selfish thought, but I just didn't see that going well for me in high school. And I was right.
That afternoon in football practice, upon discovering that I was of Arab descent—a "Palestilian" according to one educated linguist on the team—a teammate of mine took it upon himself to spear me in the back. Twice. For those of you who've never played, that sort of thing hurts. Thankfully, my coach caught on quickly and put an end to that. Still, for the next few years I was lovingly called "dune-coon," "sand-n****r," "Taliban," "Osama," and so on by a good chunk of my teammates and friends. And yes, I do mean lovingly. It was wrong, and I don't really get ...1