This Woman Had The Perfect Response For The Man Who Spit At Her In Anti-Muslim Attack

In the midst of what seems to be a wave of Islamophobia following Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., yet another story of discrimination and abuse has emerged.

"Today. On a crowded bus. On Michigan Avenue. On my way home from a great job in a city in a diverse country that I was born in. A man screamed at me. Called me a sand ni**er. Told me I was the problem. That I need to get the fuck out of his country,” wrote 27-year-old Sharareh Delara Drury, a Chicago-based Iranian-American writer and editor in a Facebook post on Monday. "I may have been wearing my scarf higher on my head than usual because it was cold out. I may have somehow looked suspicious listening to Spotify. I am half Iranian, so maybe it was my skin or my eyes."

The man in question didn’t just stop at verbal abuse, Drury wrote; he also spit at her.

"Then this man spits at me. A man in a suit and tie. Like anyone else I'd see. He spits at me and looks at me with these regular eyes now filled with anger and tells me to get the fuck off the bus, do what I'm told, because this isn't my country. This isn't my place," Drury wrote.

Drury was born in Boston and is of Irish and Iranian heritage. She wrote that her father had survived the 9/11 attacks, and she couldn't believe that this type of discrimination was happening to her. Shocked, she finally stood up for herself, telling the man to back off, after which other bus riders stepped in to help. The bus driver eventually kicked the man off the bus when he noticed the commotion.

Drury’s post has since gone viral with more than 100,000 likes, 54,000 shares and 100 comments (and counting) from sympathetic non-Muslims and Muslims alike. Drury shared her thoughts about the incident in an interview with Refinery29.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Drury is Muslim. She is Iranian-American but does not practice Islam.
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What made you share this post?
"As a writer and journalist myself, I often write or share stories I am passionate about. When this incident happened to me, though, I admit I was hesitant to share, as I couldn't even believe what had happened. Having seen so much negativity about the Middle Eastern community and Muslims, I felt this story should be known so people could be made more aware and possibly help someone they see this happening to. "
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Photo: Courtesy of Sharareh Delara Drury.
How did this experience make you feel?
"At first, I was incredibly shocked. Just completely stunned that someone would do that in public, or that I experienced it somewhere I thought was pretty open and diverse. I dealt with a lot of cruel things growing up, but when I moved to California for college, I didn’t deal with as much racism — and same thing when I moved to Chicago. I will say that Chicago, except for this incident, has never ever made me feel like this. I've met so many incredible people here who love my culture, love Iran, love Muslims, and would never do something so hurtful."
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Photo: Courtesy of Sharareh Delara Drury.
Have you had racist/Islamophobic experiences like this in the past?
"Unfortunately, yes. I'm mixed, half-Iranian and half-Irish, and I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I had a few racist experiences as a child, such as a girl's mother telling me when I was in the fifth grade that I was going to hell because of my mom's family. After 9/11, it was definitely bad. I would be called Osama Bin Laden's niece, pushed around in hallways, and ridiculed in classes. What is almost worse, though, was the slight references of racism, the ones that slipped by teachers or other friends. Being told I couldn't ever go on air because people wouldn't want to 'see someone like me.'

"But each of these experiences, as horrible as they were, have made me stronger to handle myself on my own. This is the same for many of my friends and family who have experienced this. We've all found ways to stay hopeful and positive."
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What kind of support have you received from people (on social media and otherwise) after this incident?
"The support online has been overwhelmingly positive. So many people have told me how they would have helped me if they could, how this is absolutely not the kind of action they accept in America. What I truly cherish is so many people have also shared this with friends, or told me that they shared this story with their children — who are the future, of course! A good friend of mine told me how she shared this story with her daughter, and her daughter cried because she didn't understand why someone would be so mean, and that she would learn from this and make sure she and her friends always help when they can, and stay open to learning and understanding."
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Photo: Courtesy of Sharareh Delara Drury.
If you could say anything to the man who did this, what would you say?
"I think he should take to heart Martin Luther King, Jr.'s quote: 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' Do not let hate or fear or misunderstanding guide you. What he did was truly vile. But whatever he thinks about me or my culture is completely wrong, and maybe one day he'll realize that."
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