“I’m from Afghanistan. I’m not going to hide where I’m from.”

Austin doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, so I downloaded “Fasten” and used it for the first time.

Emal rolled up within 5 minutes of me turning on the app. He was tall, wore aviator sunglasses, and was soft spoken, with a gentle, calm demeanor.

Emal, as I found out, was from Afghanistan, and had come to the country as a refugee six years ago. He said it with no hesitation, but I noticed he did glance over to check my reaction.

“Some people must not like you,” I said. “What has it been like, living here?”

“I love Austin,” he responded. “I don’t want to live anywhere else. I live well here and work hard. People here are great. But so many people are racist and it’s horrible now. They look at me and want me to go back, but there’s no original American except the natives, and white people killed them.”

“Have you had bad experiences?”

“Oh, yes, many.” He shook his head. “One day, I picked up a guy from the airport. He was very nice, and was here to do some work with the university. He was very intelligent, worked with computers. We had a great conversation for thirty minutes.”


“And then he asked me where I was from. I told him, of course. I am from Afghanistan. I am proud of it, I am not going to hide where I’m from.”

“What did he say?”

“He changed immediately. He screamed at me and called me a terrorist. Said we are all terrorists. Used bad words and told me I needed to go back and not rape and kill here.”

Illustrated by Iris Hopp
Illustrated by Iris Hopp

“Oh wow, what did you do?”

“I didn’t say anything. I just brought him to his hotel. You know, I had to do my job.”

About the artist

Iris Hopp loves traveling and exploring the world. Her illustrations here will help you travel to the world of “Riding Up Front!”