This weekend has been the greatest source of heartbreak and hope. When Donald Trump signed the temporary Muslim Ban order, it was like a knife to my heart. I wanted to cry but the fighter part of me said not now. Through my time on this planet, I have had the good fortune of meeting and becoming friends with many great people, some happen to be Muslim.
My first experience was just before I turned 11 years old. We had the whole thing with Iran going on and people had dropped their paranoia about Russia and shifted it to Iran. We lived in a huge apartment complex at the time, full of people from all races, backgrounds, religions, etc. Except for living on the third floor, it was a pretty cool place. I came down one afternoon, looking for my friends to see if they wanted to play. They were all outside in the parking lot, along with some kids I didn’t know and a 15 year old neighbor girl.
They were gathered around one of the cars yelling horrible things at a man who was just sitting on the hood of his car. His legs were crossed, his hands were resting on them and his eyes were closed. It looked like he was meditating why they told him to “Go home” and some shouted racist remarks at him. The 15 year old had a glass of water and threw it on him. He still gave no response. Now I wasn’t raised with racism. I was taught that racism was wrong and everyone was equal. I had experienced many forms of violence and abuse growing up, ones no one should ever see, but this was the first time I had seen hate and racism up close. These were my friends and what they were doing made me angry and ashamed, much like Donald Trump did this weekend. I wasn’t the most outspoken person, but I did speak up and made them leave. After they’d gone, I apologized to them man on their behalf. He smiled at me as he quickly went up the stairs to his home. He asked my name and if I liked school. I told him I did, which wasn’t a complete fib. I did like school, just not the one I went to. He said that was good and asked if I liked oranges. I replied yes. He went into his apartment and returned with one, which he tossed down to me from the third floor.
My second experience was a woman named Nativa. She was beautiful, funny and from Saudi Arabia. I met her that same summer and became such good friends she decided to adopt me as her little sister. I had never had someone take to me that way. Because we moved a lot and the abuse that I had experienced, I had perfected being invisible and didn’t make friends easily. Nativa wasn’t there long, but we hung out and talked a few times. She was very warm and interesting and genuine and it was nice having a big sister, even for a little while.
Whenever people spout their ignorance or spew racist comments, I remember the good people that I was blessed to meet and their kindness. I’ve also been blessed to befriend Muslims from Bosnia, one of whom I enjoyed a romantic relationship with for three years. He was the kindest, sweetest, most patient and considerate man I have ever been with. I did learn a lot about Islam from him, some of the traditions and holidays. I’ve read the Quran along with about six other books on Islam from different countries. The practices vary from country to country. Some are more strict than others, just as it is with Christianity and Judaism. There’s good and bad in the heart of everyone, but if we only see what’s on the outside, we will be misled every time. I’m not sharing these stories to show how good I am, I do it to show how good they are. So much misinformation and hate is being circulated and the dogma builds, I felt compelled to share my good experiences in the hopes of dispelling some of that hate and ignorance.
There are over one billion Muslims worldwide and I can’t tell you how many live in the US. I can tell you that they serve in our military and emergency services, risking their lives to keep us safe and free. They teach in our schools, work in hospitals and our government, doing things every day to make life better for those around them and I am grateful to share my life with them. That ban on Muslims is the epitome of ignorance, hate and greed. I was never more proud to be an American than when I saw all of my countrypeople gather in mass from coast to coast and fight for those who were personally wronged by this ban. New York and Boston have had the largest terror attacks ever experienced and they were the first to mobilize and protest this heinous ban.
It fills me with hope to see such strong, fighting spirits and demonstrations of love and kindness, not just here, but around the world. We can never accept such injustice and never give in to a bully, even if he is running the country. Our statue says, “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses.” That’s always been and always will be. That is the America I grew up with and the one I will fight to keep. Even hurricane Sandy couldn’t remove those inscriptions and neither can our current president.
#NoBanNoWall #NoMuslimBan #KeepFighting #OnlyLove #PeaceBe #Respect #MyAmerica