“I have taken a different perspective on how I approach my daily life.”

African American civil rights leader Martin Luther King addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. He would encourage all young people to strive to be themselves.

By Mohammed Merghani

Mohammed Merghani

The Event:

Let me set the scene. It was a lovely morning, and I (then an elementary school student) was excited about American History Day. Maybe a little more excited about the pizza that would be offered at lunchtime, but nevertheless, I was eager to get to school with all the activities our school was going to run. That took a turn quite quickly.

During brunch, after some activities had just taught us a bit about slavery and that it was terrible, not really getting into the nitty gritty, which is expected, since we were just in elementary school. As we went outside, a student (white) pointed at me and yelled, “That guy is the right color to be a slave.”

At that point in time, my parents had always told me to stand up for myself. But at that moment I did not have a response. I did whatever an elementary school student would do. I went to the teacher, which led to nothing but an apology that was forced just to see that the other student did not get in any trouble.

Yet what I get from this is a memory I will remember for the rest of my life. I was an afterthought to the other student’s emotions at that moment. Due to my immigrant parents’ long-winded conversation with the school, I was able to have a sit-down with the principal. This allowed me to have some closure and finally see that there were repercussions to the other student’s actions.

The Reflection:

As I look back on that day, I may never know why he decided to say or do what he did. But ever since then, I have taken a different perspective on how I approach my daily life.

Recently, in my AP English Language class here at Sobrato, I read a book about a man. I noticed many connections between how I go about my life and a single character. He described small things he noticed, minute things, such as people clutching their belongings as he walked through the streets by himself. And as he walked the streets at night, he would sing classical tunes to ease the fear, even going to the extent of walking on the other side of the street to ease another person’s mind.

After seeing these connections, I realized that in our world today, being an African/African American, we have to make ourselves less threatening. That is reality. As I go through life, I have been taught to be respectful and develop these habits, thinking they are normal yet not. Our lives currently revolve around the comfort of others, yet we have not been able to truly see what this has done to our community.

The impact that I want to have on the community is that I helped other young people in our community to be proud of who they are, to represent themselves, and to respect themselves for who they are.

I would like to end by thanking those who have given me the opportunity, as well as thanking my parents for allowing me to get the closure I need and to be the man I am today.

Mohamed Merghani is a junior at Sobrato High School. He wrote on his reflections on Black History Month.