I really wanted to put my two cents in about everything going on with the elections in America, so I’m going to delay the next blog post I was writing and focus on this one.
I am writing this as an American Muslim, a CITIZEN of the United States, born and raised in New York City, with immigrant parents who have resided here for the past 32 years and are U.S. citizens. The essence of what I want to express here is to not be fearful, to educate ourselves, and to remind everyone that that we can choose to either sit around and do nothing, or we can use our voices and make a CHANGE (as President Barack Obama said in his speech on the election results today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SLfCkXDAf8).
Hillary Clinton ran an inspiring campaign and has shown such an immense commitment to public service that she will undoubtedly encourage others to work hard for their dreams. We all believed that it was impossible for Trump to win, and that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president… but we were clearly woefully wrong. When I woke up this morning and checked the results I was in a state of complete shock.
None of us can predict exactly what will happen in the coming years and the same can be said about Hillary Clinton if she was elected. Both parties were flawed and neither were ideal, but I would have expected the nation to choose the MUCH lesser of the flawed. I also expected a much higher voter turnout. How could 80k+ not vote and exercise a right that was fought so hard for?
What scares me about Trump and his administration winning, besides the obvious, is that I’m living in a country where so many are ok with xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and sexual assault. I’m living in a country where I will now walk down the street and wonder who voted from Trump…who hates me or judges me only because I am Muslim. White supremacy has been magnified tenfold in a nation that is supposedly considered a melting pot. At his rallies, Trump supporters are throwing around racial slurs like nothing, peaceful protesters are thrown out and abused, and hatred for Muslims prevails (trust me, the list goes on and on). It feels as if we are regressing as a nation instead of progressing. Will we soon live in an era similar to that of the Jim Crow Laws, or the times back in 2001 after 9/11? Will minorities really have to live in fear in their HOME country? Am I, as a law-abiding, Muslim citizen of this country, going to be part of a database where I’ll be tracked?
We all want America to be great again and I believe President Obama did relatively bring us out a hole that the Bush administration dug for us. He has allowed America to embark on that path to be great again. I’m not stating that all of his policies were good, but he did something that seemed near impossible at the time (similar to what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did after the Great Depression).
What I don’t understand is why we would want America to be great again at the cost of our respect and honor as a country. Even IF (HUGE if) Trump was supposedly the one that could make America “great” once more, why would we want a person who is a misogynistic, xenophobic, white supremacist bigot to represent us as a nation? One who evokes and supports hatred and discrimination…one that doesn’t even have the qualifications to be president!? Wouldn’t we want to have a principled leader we all can try to look up to (after putting our differences aside)? But with Trump there is no putting your differences aside as a Muslim, as a Latino, as an African American, as a member of the LGBTQ community, as an immigrant, as an undocumented immigrant, as an environmentalist, or as someone who has been sexually assaulted.
There are so many questions left unanswered as our nation goes into uncharted territory. However, there is no use in pointing fingers anymore and trying to figure out where we went wrong because we can’t change what has already happened. All we can do now is educate ourselves and be proactive. We took a few steps backwards, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t move forward again.
It’s OK to be sad, confused, afraid, overwhelmed, panicked, and in shock… but once those feelings are a bit subdued, raise your heads up and realize that you have a voice. Try your best not to let this tear you down. As upset as we are, we should not be dispirited. We should not and will not let our voices be unheard or silenced. All of the angst and fire burning within us can be transformed into positive and proactive energy. Seek and fuel the change you want to see in this country. Don’t think that you can’t make a difference because you are only one person. If all of us, individually, decided to get involved, our voices together would be so thunderous and powerful that we could move mountains.
As Hilary Clinton tweeted: “Let us have faith in each other. Let us not grow weary. Let us not lose heart. For there are more seasons to come and…more work to do.” And we will do just that. We should and will try our best to stay strong, to support one another, to respect/love one another, to fight to defend our inalienable natural rights with integrity, and to work towards a better future for all of us.
For all of my fellow Muslims, do not let fear and intimidation overwhelm you. Do not waiver or give up in your beliefs and your religion, stand by them! A girl tweeted: “My mom literally just texted me ‘don’t wear the Hijab please’ and she’s the most religious person in our family” (@harryonmen). NO! I encourage you not to allow people who have misconceptions and hatred towards your religion affect your faith! Do not take off your hijabs because you are scared. You are not wearing your hijab for others; it is a piece of a beautiful relationship between you and God. Wear it proudly. Keep your faith and trust in God, and keep praying because He WILL take care of us.
If you guys are unfamiliar with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), here’s a link to their website- https://www.aclu.org. I encourage you all to educate yourselves on your rights. If you would like to become a “freedom fighter,” here is a link to donate to the ACLU- aclu.org/joinnow.
I want to end with a few quotes that hopefully can inspire us:
“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”
“We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
– Maya Angelou
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt