Kept Quiet and Nodded

“Here’s me and a Hispanic Muslim kid and everybody else.”

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Transcript for Kept Quiet and Nodded

When I got here, I was really, really nervous about, um, trying to figure out what it was going to be like being kind of like a nonreligious student on campus. And I did have a roommate who was very religious. She was like the daughter of a pastor. Um, which was like ugh. Lucky for me she was really cool about it. Um, I think she invited me to church like the first three weeks or so, and then was just kind of like, “Okay.”

I had more problems my sophomore year than I did my freshman year with religion, um, because that was the first year I had to take a theology course. Like a required theology course. Uh, I remember being kind of like cautiously optimistic because up until then, my experiences had been pretty positive. Um, but that class went very poorly for me. It was rough.

We, uh, we got assigned some writings by a civil disobedience writer. Um, it was really great. I loved it. It was Jesus and the Disinherited. And I was really excited. I took it home and I read it and it was great. It was about how, um, people who are in minorities feel anger and fear and sadness, and how you deal with that and how you deal with being different. And it was really cool. And I was really excited to, to take that into class.

And we got in there, and here’s me and a Hispanic Muslim kid, and everybody else. And the teacher goes, you know, “So what were your first thoughts on the reading?” And this kid raises his hand, and I’m like, “Oh no.” And he opens his mouth and he goes, “Well I just don’t know how he can speak on behalf of all these people. You know, how are we supposed to just take him at his word that these are things these people go through?” And that was when I started to realize that I was in this classroom full of people who just had no idea what it meant to be judged like that.

The best thing I could do was just…just see it as like a very short-term thing. You know? “It’s just a couple of weeks.” And it was such an outlier. It was such a blip on the radar. It was so unusual that that made it a little easier to deal with because it was like okay, it’s just this class. And I’m sure it’ll be okay if I can just get through this. So I just kind of had to find strategies for reshaping the assignments. For in class, there wasn’t much I could do. Um, I spoke up when I felt like I could, um, and for the rest of it, I just kind of kept quiet and nodded.

I didn’t want to interfere with other people’s learning experiences. If they were enjoying it, great, you know? This was a class made for them. Wasn’t really made for me, and I wasn’t there by choice. So I just kind of had to make the best of it.