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When I was in elementary school, I remember reading about Martin Luther King Jr. being an American Baptist Minister. I remember Christopher Columbus being a Christian, and I remember Jewish people being the wealthiest in the nation. I remember the one sentence in the textbook that mentioned my religion. I remember my history teacher saying, “the Muslims behind 9/11,” and raising my hand to question why Mohammed Ali’s boxing, Malcolm X’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and Muhammad al-Khwarizmi's creation of algebra were nowhere in the book. She told me to put my hand down: if I had a problem, I could call the publishing company. That was the same year I was called “Naazy Mohamed Modan” — despite not having a middle name — and was chased down my own street by other children. Nine years later, it seems my history book was only a prelude to today’s media coverage, and my history teacher was only a trailer for the real theatrical stigma surrounding the success of Muslims in the West.
In elementary school, Valentine’s Day week was synonymous with red cutout hearts made from construction paper, taped up with candy that my then-7-year-old classmates would distribute. It was all innocent fun until our teacher would say: “Take out your gifts and count them, kids.” Unspoken rules demanded that the person with the most “gifts” earned bragging rights and took a step up on the social ladder. Evidently America hasn’t matured since elementary school at all — instead, candy hearts have been replaced with flowers and gift counting with social media posts. Because at the end of the day, Valentine’s Day is still about public display, bragging rights and social ladders. If you have a Facebook — photo caption: “dinner with the most special girl I could ask for