Guest Column: Nodding My Head in Agreement

Ramla Malik, Guest Writer

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Have you ever looked at someone and thought something, and then you actually talked to them and you realized you were totally wrong about them? I know I have.  Do you ever judge someone based on what you hear from certain people, or the media? I know for a fact that I, and people like me all around the world, have been judged in this way.

Some people who judge others are aware of their negative opinions and express them.  These people feel they have a right to call people names or shout negative comments.  Or worse.  An example happened to my sisters and me recently; we were walking down the street, talking and laughing and having fun.  As someone passed us, they said, “There go the BOMBERS…”

Most often, I believe, when people judge, their judgments are hidden deep inside.  These people are making judgments, but don’t even realize it.

Moving here from Kenya about 13 years ago, was probably the best decision my grandma made for me! It only took me one year to learn English and be able to understand what the people around me were talking about. I was six at the time, and we lived in Utah. When I was finishing third grade, we moved to Oregon.  I had to start all over again with people I didn’t know, at a place I didn’t even know existed. For the first time in my life they put me in English Language Development (ELD) classes; they didn’t even ask me if I knew English or if I needed to be in ELD.  In the classes, they made me take all kinds of tests that consisted of writing and reading and all the basic stuff.  To their surprise, I was the only one who exceeded in all of them. These people with good intentions, made judgments without even realizing it. I did not need to be in ELD! I mean I did make new friends and new people to talk to, but I was out before my 4th grade year ended.

Even today, I know I get certain substitute teachers who come to me and re-explain what they already explained to the whole class, indicating that they think I didn’t understand. Just because I have brown colored skin and I wear the hijab, people come to the conclusion that I don’t know or understand English. What they don’t know is that I was the one teaching all of my cousins English a year after I came to America. I am now a senior in high school getting ready to graduate with A’s and B’s, and I still get the substitutes looking at me to see if I understand.  When this happens, I politely just nod my head in agreement. I understand they have hidden judgments.

It doesn’t matter if a person realizes they have judgments or not; the impact is the same.  I will continue to politely nod my head in agreement to those who are unaware, but a better solution is for all of us to recognize we have judgments deep inside, and to work to uncover them.

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Guest Column: Nodding My Head in Agreement