Adama Bah, 23, student
My mother came to the United States with me in 1990, the year I turned two. We originally came from Koubia in Guinea, west Africa. My dad was here already, living in Brooklyn. Then came my brother, who is now 19, my sister, who is 17, and two more brothers who are 13 and five. I'm 23. We lived in an apartment in Manhattan.
I went to public school until seventh grade. Then my dad wanted me to learn about my religion, so he sent me to an Islamic boarding school in Buffalo, New York. What's weird now that I look back is that my parents aren't really religious, we didn't really go to mosque. But my dad heard about the school from somebody who recommended it.
I was 13 when 9/11 happened. My teacher announced that a Muslim might have done it, and that there might be hatred against Muslims. I felt 9/11 when I came back to New York for Ramadan break. Altogether, there were six classmates who had to get on a plane to come back. At that time, we covered our faces. I couldn't believe the looks. Everybody was scared, pointing. We got extra screenings, our bags were checked, we got pulled to the side. I've never had racism directed toward me before.
My parents didn't know I wore the niqab until I came home. My mom opened the door, saw me, and told my father, "You have to tell her to take this off."
I came back to New York public school for ninth grade. I left the Islamic school because I didn't like it. I remember telling my dad, "I'm too controlled there." I wore my niqab for a few months. I didn't have any problems in high school, but after a while, I thought, "This is not a mosque." So in the middle of ninth grade, I took it off.... read more