(published in Daily Collegian)
Viewing clear photos of the Boston Marathon attack suspects made me happy and relieved about their appearance.
After the Muslim prayer was not heard, ‘God please let them not be Muslim, God please let them not be Muslim’ and the guys turned out to be Muslim, I was praying that ‘God let them be without beard, God please let them be without beard.’ Great! They were white and without beards. I am a Middle Easterner and grow a black beard, a very black one; it has the potential to make people suspicious of me even though my beard is short and trimmed, unlike the Talibanic one. Now that they are not bearded I can keep my beautiful beard without need to shave it.
I have lived in the Valley for five years and I did not come across any racial problems. These days, however, when I walk in downtown Amherst or Northampton, I am suspicious of people looking at me; if it were before, I would say it is because of my handsome, very handsome beard. But after the Marathon tragedy, their looks toward black-bearded Middle Easterners seem different. Someone looks at me and I think: What do those people think about me? Do they consider me responsible for these acts of terror? Do they think my black beard makes me capable of such violence too; if not now, perhaps later?
Now that the guys were not bearded, I can keep my black scruff and go back to interpreting people’s stares as if they were looking at a very handsome bearded gentleman.