King of the World

Episode 1: 9/11

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Episode notes

Host Shahjehan Khan acquaints us with his family—a fivesome in a predominantly white suburb of Boston by way of Pakistan—and his conflicted identity. Despite his name literally meaning “king of the world,” young Shahjehan feels increasingly powerless. We learn three of his favorite things: a shiny red Fender Strat, weed, and figure skating. September 11th, 2001, starts out like any other school day, then the first plane hits the World Trade Center at the end of first-period calculus. The attacks continue to unfold as teachers frantically try to access the internet and reassure students, when they themselves are anything but. Direct ties to his community, extended family, and Logan Airport are discovered, and we review everything the nation knew by that evening. The association between Islam and terrorism indelibly solidifies, and Shahjehan experiences the single most defining moment of his young adult life—an indication of the forthcoming massive impacts for American Muslims.