84 pages 2 hours read

Hena Khan

Amina's Voice

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2017

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Racially Motivated Bullying

Throughout the novel, Amina intimates that both she and Soojin have experienced bullying. Although Amina herself, as a child, does not explicitly state that the bullying that she and Soojin endure is racially motivated, a discerning reader can pick up the subtext of the jabs that Soojin and Amina receive about their appearance, eating habits, and aromas. For example, Luke’s taunt that Amina has grass growing on her legs is directly related to racial body policing that dictates that Caucasian bodily features are normal and beautiful by default. The thick, dark hair that grows on Amina’s legs is therefore cast as a form of racial inferiority, which is implicitly expressed through Luke’s taunt. Amina’s desire to keep the smell of her mother’s cooking away from her clothes as a result of the bullying she received when her classmates smelled the aroma of Pakistani food on her is also a result of racial aggression, as is the taunt that Soojin endures about her family eating dog meat.

Soojin’s desire to change her name to Susan or an array of other English names also represents the pressure that she feels to mask and abandon her Korean-ness to more successfully assimilate into an English-speaking and white majority.