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Sat Sep 26, 2020, 06:30 PM

I Was Bullied for Being Arab. Nine Inch Nails Threw Me a Lifeline.

As a teenage girl paralyzed with fear, one of the darkest albums of the 1990s, “The Downward Spiral,” gave me the guts to rebel against my tormentors.

During my first week of school in Kentucky, in 5th grade, at the very beginning of the first Gulf War, a boy drew a picture and hung it on the classroom wall. On one side was an illustration of me; on the other, the rest of my classmates and teacher. Above my head, in marker, the words “Saddam Salam.” The teacher came in, examined it, peeled it off and never said a thing. I’ve since joked that I was the “literal poster child for bullying,” but it’s not so funny.

In that town, a tight-knit community in the Bible Belt, my Arabness and my Muslim background were glaring targets. I was terrorized ruthlessly, by those looking to elevate their station or find the butt of a joke, including the occasional teacher. For stretches over the next few years, throughout middle school, I would sit in a classroom during lunch or in the front office during recess, for my safety.

Hometown pride is everything in a town like that, and it was made exceedingly clear that this was not my hometown. Which, of course, it wasn’t.

I spent my first four years in Beirut, Lebanon, during one of the worst eras of its civil war. The pandemonium of bombs detonating was the soundtrack of my formative years. (Memories that surged back to the surface with the blast in Beirut last month.) My parents, with little choice but to chase down a better life, moved with their three daughters to the United States, landing in Colorado and Missouri for a few years before Kentucky.

...

“The Downward Spiral” gave me the nerve to fight for what’s mine, and with my newfound armor, I began high school transformed, inside and out, to the point that some of my classmates didn’t recognize me. I inscribed the letters “nin” on my backpack in Wite-Out — an audacious signal in that conservative community, where such music was considered devilish. The bullying stopped almost on a dime, and I felt what was once unthinkable: cool.

By going public with my fandom — in the time just before the internet allowed us to find our tribes with relative ease — the other others came into view. I wasn’t so alone after all. I became aware that tucked into corners all around me, in that very school and town, were creative kids similarly struggling. These newfound connections opened up new worlds of sounds, messages and musicians that would further mold me: Fiona Apple, Rage Against the Machine, Garbage, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, Nirvana, Ani DiFranco and my favorite of all, Tori Amos. These artists would provide the score as I carved an atypical path through my 20s. The decade culminated in me coming out as gay.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/24/arts/music/nine-inch-nails-trent-reznor.html

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Reply I Was Bullied for Being Arab. Nine Inch Nails Threw Me a Lifeline. (Original post)
demmiblue Sep 26 OP
marble falls Sep 26 #1
Stuart G Sep 27 #2
MustLoveBeagles Sep 27 #3

Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sat Sep 26, 2020, 07:37 PM

1. I am so glad she hung in and persevered.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sun Sep 27, 2020, 01:24 AM

2. Thanks for posting..k and r

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sun Sep 27, 2020, 02:31 AM

3. K&R

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