Thursday, December 22, 2011

Muslims in America

December 21, 2011
At five o'clock this evening, my bus stopped to pick up students from the local high school. They had stayed late to have sports team pictures taken before the winter recess. The bus sounded like an excited flock of geese as they boarded. Most were Muslims. They slowly surveyed the bus as they determined how they were to divide up and where to sit. The seat next to me was vacant and the last to be taken by a slight Somali girl, complete with head scarf, the seat in front by her heavier Somali scarfed girlfriend and an Afro-American boy whom they both seemed to like.

As the bus travelled toward downtown, they jabbered, joked, and poked each other talking about their friends while grasping their smart phones. The boy was asked if he smoked. To understand the question more clearly, he gave the motion of having a toke. The girls were surprised and said they didn't know he smoked. He said he had been smoking for two years, mostly at home when his mother was away, otherwise she would kill him. He would then go outside to walk off the effects before she returned home.

The girls reaction was more of wanting to know more, rather than judgement. "Aren't you afraid of being caught by the police?", one asked. "No" said the boy. There was a moment of silence as they pondered his answer and what they had just experienced. As the bus neared the transfer station, their talk quickly changed to their connections and how late they would be getting home.

What made me laugh was the universality of the scene. It could have occurred with any group of American young teenagers anywhere, growing up. It made me feel good to know that America's future was going to be in their good dark-skinned hands.

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