This was also published on Teen Vogue.
A friend of mine recently posted a status indicating that as we gear up for challenges ahead, it’s crucial that the voice and support of all people is at the table in our continued work toward equality and justice. This has never been truer for the marginalized groups of women in America. You know the ones: women of color; LGBTQ+; the disabled; millennials; Muslims; Latinos; immigrants, and all other marginalized communities that have been spoken over, rather than allowed to speak for themselves. But in the midst of all of that, we have been holding it down. And we all know that we women are the ones who have been not only bearing the brunt of this election cycle, but also the ones on the front lines of hope and change.
Recently, Muslim Girl writers sat down to reflect on this past year and prepare themselves for the upcoming inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump. Maybe you can relate to their fears and concerns for our future. But make no mistake: hope and change definitely remains part of their #2017goals. And like many women before and after us, they aren’t going to wait for an invitation to manifest those goals – they are taking things into their own hands to create the changes they want to see.
Halimah Elmariah, Age: 20, North Bergen, New Jersey
“Like many Americans, Trump’s victory took me by surprise and left me concerned about the trajectory of our country. Many things worry me about his presidency, including increased political polarization, conflict of personal and familial interests, and media isolation that could lead to lack of transparency. As a Muslim Arab American, I’m primarily concerned that Trump’s new administration could implement hawkish foreign policies in the Middle East that could leave thousands more dead and engender greater instability. On the home front, I worry about increased hate crimes against minorities that reflects Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and that of his cabinet’s. Amidst my concerns, there’s a silver lining that keeps me hopeful. Minority communities are starting to work together to address several societal issues. Many students, educators, organizers, and activists are becoming re-engerized and are working diligently to produce better results. Despite the political uncertainty and turbulence that lies ahead, many, including myself, are seizing this as an opportunity to become stronger agents of change.”
Eman Idil Bare, Age: 24, Toronto, Canada
“I think the silver lining after the election, and moving forward into the Trump presidency is that he legitimized POC voices. No one believed us when we drew on statistics to show how injustice the legal system was to black people, or the rampant Islamophobia or the anti-anything-not-straight-and-white. This election proved that we are not in a post-racial world and that “I don’t see race” is a cop-out. And while that sounds really depressing, to realize that there are very few things that separate us from generations before, I’m confident that it will inspire enough people to get involved. Because unfortunately, racism will never die, but we can change the conversation so that those with hatred in their hearts are not the ones making decisions. We need to be inclusive, but also protective of whom we give a voice to. We cannot give a voice to violence and hatred and I think the next four years will see a rise in the number of POC who commit themselves to a life of politics and social change.”
Aya Khalil, Age: 29, Toledo, Ohio
“As an American Muslim mother of two young children, I can’t help but feel upset, angry and worried when Trump becomes the President of the United States. When you have the president of one of the most powerful countries in the world spewing hatred, bigotry and sexism whom your neighbors and coworkers voted for, then you worry about your own family, children, local mosques and marginalized community members. I’m raising my children to be kind to others, to appreciate all kinds of differences, that we do not tolerate any prejudice, racism or cultural insensitivity. I’m cautiously optimistic that we will get through these four years together and come out stronger than before. But I will not normalize Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric, and I will continue to write and speak out against hatred and injustice.”
Nour Saudi, Age: 24, New York, New York
“With Trump’s Inauguration looming, I’m starting to feel the same fear and hopelessness that I felt when he was officially announced the president-elect. In a very short time, he’s going to be the president, MY president, and it’s the biggest identity crisis I think I’ve had in my life thus far. Coping with the fact that the future leader of the country I was born and raised in, my home, does not want me here, is pretty disconcerting, now more than ever. This man spent years cultivating an environment of hate and discrimination against minority groups, creating a fanbase bred on racism, and we have to deal with that damage for years to come. As a Muslim woman, my biggest fear with Trump lies in the unknown. His impulsive tweeting and flip-flopping on ideas and blunt disregard for the truth tells us that we really don’t know what he’s serious about. Though at the same time, I’m actually excited for Inauguration Day — because the following day, over 100,000 people will participate in the Women’s March on Washington, organized by three powerful, inspiring women of color, to stand up for their rights and the rights of all marginalized communities. You see, we aren’t just going to stand idly by throughout his presidency.”
Dena Igusti, 19, Queens, New York
“The fact that an individual who has based his platform on xenophobic, misogynistic, and anti-immigrant rhetoric is becoming inaugurated shows how ignorance and language can be used to dehumanize and further oppress marginalized communities. It’s frustrating to see someone, who has attacked a large percentage of Americans (both documented and undocumented), be sworn into a country that claims to promote diversity and acceptance. With the rise in hate crimes, especially crimes that were influenced by Trump’s candidacy, there is fear in the uncertainty of whether or not a lot of his words will turn into policy. In addition, there is fear that this inauguration will lead to actions that are beyond policy, considering the fact that Trump has supporters that have agreed with his rhetoric, or were willing to overlook his rhetoric at the expense of communities being attacked on a daily basis. Our future president must understand that as president, he not only holds a lot of power, but also holds a great expectation to be accountable of what he says and what follows after. This inauguration is also a reminder of the great impact fear-mongering and generalization have. Racism and Islamophobia were prevalent long before Trump even considered running for president. Muslims being portrayed as terrorists as well as communities of color being viewed as threats to society were narratives that have been present in media, policy, and the public for years. Now, it’s more important than ever to push narratives that allow individuality in communities, and to ensure that we don’t associate people with negative connotations through our language, actions, and viewpoints.”
Maha Syeda, Age: 20, Ontario, Canada
“As a Canadian, it’s been a different experience watching the election take place and then seeing Trump eventually win. Reflecting on his campaign and now the inauguration ahead, I realized that much of it was based on hate and it brought out the worst in many who believed it was now acceptable to voice hate. However, that could’ve just been an excellent marketing strategy on his team’s part, to target those who had that many pent up frustrations either against minorities or citizens who were sick of politicians in general. There has been improvement in terms of him not spewing as much hate ever since he won the election and hopefully over time it disappears completely. I’d like to stay positive and hope that his term isn’t as bad as people may be fearing. I’m currently visiting the U.S. and I haven’t felt any judgement as a hijabi and I hope it will always continue to be this way, even when I visit again during the Trump presidency.”
Hanan Issa, Age: 30, Cardiff, United Kingdom
“Across the pond feels very far away from Trump Tower. As I, like many Americans, watched the electoral results in horror, I felt a mixture of numbness, panic, and loss. And when I say loss I mean that the double whammy of Brexit and Trump’s election to President, signified, for me, a momentous negative shift in world opinion. As a human, I still believe that we as individuals are fundamentally good; however, I no longer have faith in humanity, as a collective body, to do good. 2016 was an example of how we have become too easy to manipulate, our minds too malleable, and crowd mentality far too powerful, for the perfect endings we see in fairy tales and superhero movies to be a reality. On a positive note, I feel that these events will embolden those with kind hearts and strong wills to become even more vocal and united against all forms of bigotry. I will not be watching the inauguration as I don’t think I can stomach the amount of insincerity and hypocrisy that will take place. My thoughts and prayers go out to those enduring this farce from within the U.S. Let’s just hope the Avengers decide to crash the ceremony because, after Trump winning the Presidency, it’s a possibility!”
Jennah Haque, Age: 17, Bethesda, Maryland
“I’m not sure how our economy will pan out under a Trump administration; but, from a social perspective, I believe the U.S. is more divided than ever since the election. Everyone ‘s voices have been amplified through social media, but the conversations have shifted to more aggressive rhetoric. And we partially have Trump to blame for that; his derogatory remarks against women, Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community prove he’s the antithesis of basic morality and human decency. I think Trump’s dialogue stimulated but also illuminated a major issue within the floorboards of our nation: a deep-rooted prejudice against minorities. It’s really disenchanting to know the leader of your country and many of your fellow Americans, those who you consider your family, don’t accept you. You feel like you don’t belong in your own home. It’s some consolation that my wonderful peers and community members surround me with love and celebration, but my story doesn’t chronicle everyone minority’s narrative. My message to Mr. President-Elect is this: Whether you like it or not, me and my fellow immigrants — and I mean all 300 million Americans seeing as this nation was founded by immigrants — are here to stay. Our unwavering patriotism and dedicated work ALREADY makes America great.”
Leah Vernon, Age 29, Detroit, Michigan
“How do I plan on getting through the Trump era? By continuing to be unapologetically me. Accept me for all my glory, which includes my size, my race and my faith in America — all the things he’s against. I’m not allowing hate and fear to dictate my decisions. I’ll continue embracing other people’s differences and listening to viewpoints outside of my own; being fearless and standing up for human rights, despite what nonsense will be going on inside the White House.”
Sumaia Masoom, Age 20, Platteville, Wisconsin / Evanston, Illinois
“After the election, my initial reaction was fear and a deep-set sadness. Having taken a few weeks to gear up and begin to heal, I now feel ready to fight whatever’s coming. it’s comforting to see our lawmakers — some of them, at least — step up for Muslims and other minority groups in the face of impending chaos. It’s still incredibly frustrating to see so much of the country still blindly accept being blatantly lied to, but I think that’s also exactly why it’s so important to keep fighting to bring awareness to action as journalists and activists, starting in our own communities.
We’ve learned a lot this past year regarding the healing and repair that is needed for our country, how deep-rooted fear has played in the trajectory of this nation, and most importantly, the fact that we have a whole lot more to learn. Maybe that’s the silver lining for us. Maybe this is our chance to come together, collaborate, educate, innovate, and move forward knowing exactly what our challenges are as young women in a Trump era. We can still salvage the message of hope that President Obama has left us – because ultimately, hope is everything we need to continue to make a difference. Democracy is about getting involved. And we are loud and proud. #CanYouHearUsNow?”