I’ve had to accept a lot of things in my life in just the short 24 years that I’ve been around.
I’ve had to accept that I wouldn’t become a professional volleyball player who hangs out on the beaches of the world for a living (this one was ridiculous anyway).
I’ve had to accept that no matter how much I travel, I most likely will never get to see the entire world like I had planned — because there is just so, so much of it.
I’ve had to accept that not everyone will like me, no matter how nice or how generous I am.
I’ve had to accept that I cannot trust everyone I thought I could.
I’ve had to accept that I will lose people I love to terrible diseases and tragedies and that there is nothing I can do about it.
I’ve had to accept that no matter how much I try — I cannot save the world (though I can help change it).
I chose to accept all of these things — among many others.
But most recently, I’ve felt forced to accept things rather than choosing to accept them on my own.
I’ve been forced to accept that I live in a country where the people running for the highest office in the free world call for the complete and total ban of people like me.
I’ve been forced to accept that I live in a country where my fellow citizens cheer by roaring crowds of thousands in support for the people running for the highest office in the free world, who call for the complete and total ban of people like me.
I’ve been forced to accept that I live in a country where people value their firearms more than the lives of children (who lost their life to said fire arms).
I’ve been forced to accept that I live in a world — where our memories are dangerously too short about our past.
I’ve been forced to accept that I live in a world that fears my faith, my culture, my image, my intelligence — that fears me.
But I will never choose to accept these things. They are not things that deserve acceptance.
A few days ago I posted some snarky statuses on Facebook — as per usual — calling Carson brainless and telling Trump supporters that we “can’t be friends.” As funny as I was trying to be — there is now so much truth behind those words.
If you support someone like Carson who compares people like me to “rabid dogs” — we cannot be friends. If you support someone like Carson who tells me that I cannot and should not be president one day — we cannot be friends.
If you support someone like Trump who wants me to publicly wear an ID to make me easily identifiable as a Muslim to the general public and to authorities — we cannot be friends. If you support someone like Trump who wants to create a “special database” to monitor people like me and my family — we cannot be friends.
The past few weeks have been a very difficult time for me, my family and our fellow Muslim Americans. It’s been a time of questioning, it’s been a time that has been challenging our devotion to our faith, it’s been a time of fear and stress and sadness. The media is so adamant on making our own people — Americans — turn against us. They are so adamant on making everyone fear us.
But what most people do not realize is, we’re afraid too.
This world is attempting to force people like me to accept things that put me and my family and my friends in danger.
This world is attempting to force people like me to accept the loss of rights that are promised to us as Americans.
The world is attempting to force people like me to accept that I will have to live with this constant fear because of who I am.
But I again, will not accept these things — and Muslim or not — you shouldn’t either.
I’ve remained dormant for a bit on social media as per request of my family, but also in an effort to not make anyone feel like I’m shoving how peaceful my religion is down your throats (because that in itself is an oxymoron). I’ve stayed quiet for a bit in an effort to grieve with my fellow Americans and global citizens about the tragedies that have recently taken place around the world and on our own soil in the false name of my religion. And being “silent” has allowed me to listen more closely to how others speak — which in turn leads me to ask you all for a few things:
Please be mindful of the things you say and post. We all hear and see you. I understand that it is a time of fear and confusion. But I and so many people I know are so careful to articulate our words to you in a way that is respectful, educated and validated that when others do not grant us the same efforts in return — it’s painful.
Please understand that as Muslim Americans — we grieve with you — and then we grieve some more. We grieve the hijacking of everything that makes us who we are. We grieve the loss of our identity in the eyes of the general public. We grieve the loss of friends who have been swindled by the media and no longer see us for who they used to see us as — an all-American family — but now for who the media tells them to see us as.
We grieve — but we also appreciate much more now, those who have made an effort to reach out to us and offer their love and support in these scary times. Please know that I find comfort in your genuine concern for my family and our well-being, and I will forever remember and appreciate those gestures.
And lastly, please always choose be “American.” Be the American who speaks up for the voiceless and stands up for what’s right. Be the American who insists that all of your fellow citizens are treated with the same dignity and respect and continue to hold the same human rights that you do — no matter their race, religion, orientation, etc.
Be the American that America was built for. Because without you, people like me will lose hope.
Originally posted on author’s Facebook page.
Image provided by the author.