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We Still Need a Post-9/11 Reckoning

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Like most New Yorkers, my life changed forever on Sept. 11, 2001. I was just 8 years old when two planes crashed into the twin towers on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday morning. At school in Astoria, teachers looked frantic, and we were just confused kids until an older student told us to look through the bathroom window. All I could see was smoke.

When I got home, the same video—of the second plane hitting the South Tower—was playing on loop on the news. Neighbors and friends, especially those who couldn't commute back to their own homes, were gathered in front of our TV. I remember one of them, an older woman, repeating the same eight words: "Things are never going to be the same."

As I was grieving a devastating attack on my city, the pride I had in who I was—the people I loved, the way I prayed, the clothes I wore—was replaced by shame as my community was villainized.

Before then, growing up in Queens, the most ethnically diverse place in the world, I had been able to blend in. As the daughter of Egyptian immigrants who spoke English as their second language, I was certainly different. But almost everyone I interacted with was, too. And then our city was attacked.

In hindsight, my identity became politicized overnight. After........

© Common Dreams

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