Editor’s note: If you, or someone you know is being bullied for any reason, please reach out and tell someone. Do not suffer in silence. There are resources available to you, whether it’s to speak to staff members at school, or call an anti-bullying hotline.
CBS News wrote an article on July 9 of this year, about one Asma Kaukab, an 11-year-old girl who won a trip to the All-Star Game with a powerful essay.
Sadly, it took writing an essay of her struggles at school, being teased because of her Muslim faith, to get recognition for the horrible behavior of other students towards her.
Fifth grade is meant to be enjoyed without worries of having to deal with hate because of your faith. And let’s be honest, we all know that hate is taught. You’re not born hating someone, so it is only fair to assume that the behavior and actions from children who bully stems from outside influences.
Asma wrote this article in the hopes of helping others who go through the same situation she had been going through. And although it may not help the ignorance of some people, it sure did help her teacher, Karin Savino.
It is necessary for all school staff members to be aware of everything going on within the premises of their school and amongst the students. It is so important for an environment to be accepting and kind to be conducive to learning. According to the article, the teacher interviewed, Karin Savino, expressed how the treatment of Asma was hurtful, as the school was an otherwise wonderful place. Savino stated that it saddened her to see that her student had gone through this experience.
As is the case with many, this young, talented little girl contemplated removing her hijab so she didn’t have to deal with the harsh words other kids were using towards her. Asma expressed in her essay, “Wearing a hijab, a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women is a part of some of the things we do…Sometimes I feel like I want to take it off, so kids won’t say anything to me anymore.”
This young girl was born and raised in the United States. It’s really disturbing to know that regardless of where you are born, you are still going to be mistreated based on how you appear. We are a melting pot of cultures and individuals in the United States, and it has really gotten to the point where people need to understand that they must start to accept others, regardless of faith, nationality, or identity. Differences should not change how others treat one another, especially if you are not “American.” What even defines an “American” nowadays, anyway? We all came from somewhere outside of the United States!
Miss Asma is the example we need to look for when understanding the cause and effect of someone being bullied. Although she was born in America, her parents are from Pakistan. Her experience was shared as being part of the Breaking Barriers program at school. This program is a two month session that was developed by Major League Baseball, Scholastic, and Sharon Robinson, the daughter of Jackie Robinson. The program ends with a nationwide essay contest, and the concept is to learn about children from across the country, and what they are experiencing. After Asma’s essay was selected as the winning entry, Sharon Robinson arrived to the school two weeks later to see the lucky winner, and read the essay to the entire school.
The 11-year-old winner expressed that now people are trying to include her more, inviting her to play games with them. She states that they don’t call her names, and that the problems she once faced have gotten a lot better.
How exciting for Asma, as her essay was picked out of over 10,000 entries as the best in the country! It is so refreshing to know that people truly take the time out to read and understand the implications of each student’s essay entry. The fact that Asma’s article was chosen as a winner out of all the entries shows that Islamophobia is to be recognized as a universal concern.
The 11-year-old winner expressed that now people are trying to include her more, inviting her to play games with them. She states that they don’t call her names, and that the problems she once faced have gotten a lot better. The lucky winner has also experienced good things outside of school too. Her prize consists of an all expenses paid trip to the All-Star game. This little gem was honored by thousands, Monday night, at their Homerun Derby, that took place in Cleveland.
Congratulations, sweet Asma! I hope your essay reaches the hearts of many, and that includes adults too! We all need to take note of Asma’s struggle and experience in order to teach our youth, along with our elders, that bullying cannot be tolerated or dismissed as “kids being kids.” Being polite doesn’t take a lot of energy, and it isn’t hard, so we need to get with the program.