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  • The people in my world taught me to be afraid. It wasn't safe to leave my
    neighbrohood because people were being shot and stabbed. There were gangs
    about waiting to kill innocent little white girls. Watch out!

    I was warned that boys would want things of me. Unspeakable things. One in
    three women are made to perform unsoliciated sexual acts before their 18th
    birthdays, they said. So I closed off and built walls around my heart.

    In college, Amir snuck through my walls and cascaded them down. I was left
    naked and intoxicatingly in love. He cherished me, treated me with respect
    that goes unmatched. But they warned me that we didn't think the same, he
    would be abusive, he would take another wife, he was a terrorist, he would
    go to hell for being Muslim.

    I listened.

    I doubted the love. I ignored the hospitality and kindness shown to me
    because of what they said. I cultivated hate in my heart, for myself. My
    anger replaced the walls I had built with a cage of fire. I spent years not
    understanding who I was.

    I was warned against Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Yemenis, Pakistanis,
    Colombians, Africans, Indians. Everyone.

    Now I'm grown. I moved to a safe town where 99 percent of the population
    checks the caucasian box on the census. I am the outcast, here. I have
    nothing in common with these people. I'm the foreigner in my own land.

    I was warned about everything except the lies I was being told and the hate
    they'd make me feel for myself.
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