“Where are you from?”, his attacker asked before shooting Rais Bhuiyan during a killing spree in Texas shortly after 9/11. The attacker, a white supremacist, had been hunting for “Arabs” and perceived Muslims, though not one of his victims turned out to be from the Middle East. Despite being shot in the face, Bhuiyan survived, but two other victims did not.
Remarkably, not only did Bhuiyan forgive his attacker, but he also spent months trying to save him from death row. In the process, his attacker, a man named Mark Stroman, renounced his white supremacist beliefs and expressed deep regret for his fatal actions. In his final words before his execution in 2011, Stroman said, “One second of hate will cause a lifetime of pain.”
Our stories have the power to connect, inspire, heal, and even save lives. As divisiveness continues to permeate our communities, Bhuiyan shares his story of resilience and reconciliation. Stories can help us replace ignorance with understanding, fear with acceptance, and hate with empathy—all pathways toward a more equitable, just, and peaceful society.
Rais Bhuiyan (he/him) is the founder of World Without Hate, a nonprofit focused on preventing and disrupting hate and violence and restoring peace and understanding through storytelling and empathy. His story is chronicled in The True American: Murder & Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas.
Bhuiyan lives in Seattle.
- January 27, 2022
- Washington State Department of Enterprise Services
About Speakers Bureau Events
Speakers Bureau talks are free public presentations on history, politics, music, philosophy, and everything in between. Humanities Washington’s Speakers Bureau roster is made up of professors, artists, activists, historians, performers, journalists, and others—all chosen not only for their expertise, but their ability to inspire discussion with people of all ages and backgrounds. All talks are free and open to the public, and each lasts about an hour. They are hosted by a wide range of organizations throughout Washington State.