SEIKA GHAVIDEL (GRADE 11)
Dear Fellow Muslim,
I am heartbroken. The tears aren’t complacent ones. They’re frustrated, angry, and, most fundamentally, hurt ones. It hurts to think about it. It hurts to even hear about it. However, this isn’t something you nor I can ignore.
They say history repeats itself. But why? Instead of learning from our mistakes, must we constantly chase our tails in a vicious cycle of hurt and destruction?
I am American and I am also Muslim. But why does it feel like these two sides of me don’t belong together? I know you probably feel similarly.
I know it feels unfair. It feels as if you’re being punished for something you didn’t do. And please know that. You did not do anything. You are not at fault. I know you’re nervous. I know you’re scared for your wellbeing, your siblings’, and maybe even your family living in one of the seven countries.
It may feel like everyone around you is watching you, waiting patiently for one slip-up. It may feel like everyone is expecting you to do something, anything. Prove them wrong. It may even feel like you’re being pushed into a dark, isolated corner.
You may be walking down the hallways at school and see a “Trump/Pence” hat. You may think to yourself “they don’t want me here” or “they don’t want this type of American.” You may be in a classroom discussing the ban and hear someone passionately defending it. You may think to yourself, “But I’m a good person, but my family are good people” or “Why does my religion make me inferior to you?”
Try not to think these things. They are heavy rocks that sit uneasily in your heart, making your posture smaller, your eyes flicker downward, and your resolution die out as soon as you’re about to open your mouth and speak. You must never, ever let these thoughts control you.
Because you are loved. You are wanted. You are needed. You are strong. So much stronger than you or I will ever know. You and I will get through this. We will get through this. I know it’s hard and I know you’re scared. It’s okay to be scared—I am too. But your fear will not and will never control you or your actions. You are greater than fear. We are greater than fear.
You may not be the ideal type of American in the mind of our President or even other Americans.
But here you are. Reading this letter. Existing. And your existence in itself is defiance. You are here. Right here, right now. And you don’t plan on going anywhere. You will fight back.
And when my little sister looks up at me with watery eyes and asks me if anything bad is going to happen to our aunts, uncles, cousins, and father, I will smile and say, “Nothing. Not if I can help it.”
A Fellow Muslim