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Scared out of my mind
I feel like I can't defend my country

By Negin Shadaram
September 17, 2001
The Iranian

My name is Negin. I live in Ohio. I am 17-years old and scared out of my mind. I moved here when I was little. I have tried everything to stay Iranian. I love my culture. I have even taken my American friends to Iranian concerts, for example; when Andy was here.

Due to the tragic attack in New York, I feel like I can't defend my country. At first it didn't really hit me that I may be in danger too. On Wednesday, I was getting ready to go to school when my parents told me to stay quite if people say anything. During class, kids talking bad about Middle East.

My Mom said she is thinking of getting an American flag, just so no one comes and bothers us. I'm against it. I'm not American, even if I am a citizen. I'm 100% Iranian. I know kids my age who are Iranian, acting like they are ashamed of it. I'm just really tired of this.

I feel like standing up for my country is a bad idea. I especially feel bad for the Iranians and all Middle Easterners who live here who cover up. I find myself joking with my cousins, telling them I'm really Italian.

I spend hours and hours glued to the TV crying with the sad stories. I lit a candle last night at 7, since I heard somewhere everyone is going too. I did it in my room so no one will disturb me, and I just prayed for all the families and everyone in the Middle East who are in danger. I prayed that Bush will leave Iran alone. More than anything I wish for him to just tell America to stop hating people who live here. Why can't he do that? Maybe some people will listen and leave people alone If they hear it from the big guy.

At my school, everyone was wearing an American flag yesterday, all the kids started raising money for American Red Cross. I of course helped out, but I found myself not wanting to wear the American flag ribbon. I guess, overhearing kids saying so many mean things about Middle Easterners... I just became frustrated. I really want to be in Iran right now. Be with family, where my heart really belongs. I wish I was born when the Shah was in Iran. I just want the feeling my parents had.

I basically wanted to write this letter just to say how proud I am that I'm Iranian and that who ever reads this maybe understand what I'm trying to say. I know I'm young and haven't been through much, but what is going on right now really opens my eyes to this world. And makes me confused about everything. I hear my American friends say how proud they are of their country, but I think how many people are dead and are going to be dead if another war begins, if Bush decides to fight back with every power he has. Now what?

Thank you for giving me the chance to speak out.

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