Donald Trump wants you to hate me…
And hatred won’t make America great again.
Trump has brought out the ugly in my friends and neighbors. He has reverted us back to darker times in race relations, and he makes me feel worse than I felt after 9/11 for being Muslim. I don’t actually get mad at all of this. I’ve passed mad. I’m just upset and sad. It feels like a sad depressing song pushing down on my chest all the time. I don’t even comment on politics much anymore because I feel defeated. Completely defeated.
And the election hasn’t even happened yet. It doesn’t need to happen for me. I’m already broken.
I wake up and walk around every day knowing that Donald Trump wants you to hate me, and that some of you might not question it…
My friends and family know me as a person first. A proud American, a hard worker, a community man, a family man. A person who fights for the underdog and stands up to injustice. They believe in me and see me as a good person, sometimes more than I do. They know that I add value to my community. I run a community-focused business with Paired Media that helps small business owners. I’ve had a successful corporate career, and I’ve been obsessed with making the world around me better. I serve on boards for non-profits and startups, I coach students, I donate money. My startup even donates food to the homeless. I volunteered on my first aid squad throughout high school and college. I worked multiple jobs in college and played sports.
I have also been going to mosque on Fridays for as long as I’ve been able. I read the Quran. I’m not just a Muslim “by birth.” I’m a Muslim by choice. I am the “elusive” moderate Muslim you’ve all been hearing about.
With regards to being Muslim, I get the benefit of the doubt (although that’s still a weird concept to me, to need that “benefit of the doubt”) from most people. I’m light skinned. I have green eyes. I’m able to show who I am before people learn that I’m Muslim.
I joke like an American and I walk like an American and I talk like an American. Guess what? I’m American. I always have been, and I always will be. Being Muslim doesn’t change that.
I was taught to love our freedoms and to love America since I was young. Who taught me? The same people who taught me Islam.
My mother and father and my aunts and grandparents. My dad taught me that economic and religious freedoms were important. He grew up against the iron curtain of communism. My mother taught me the importance of standing up against injustice and to stand up for what I believed in. She also taught me that there was no limit — I can do what I want. They both taught me to push. They taught me the very best parts of what it meant to be an American. When our electricity and water were cut off they taught me to see the good in struggle. They also taught me how to pray, and how to love my neighbors. They encouraged me to fast during Ramadan, and taught me love for and acceptance of others. They taught me how to be a good Muslim and, through that, I became a better American.
Do all of these other parts of me get disqualified because I’m Muslim?
If you do feel that way, I urge you to question your position. Engage with me, and with other Muslims. Learn about the Muslims at work, on your team, in your class and in your community. I think you’ll find there’s much more to us than you’ve been led to believe, and much less of what you’ve been led to believe as well.
If you don’t support Trump’s views…if you don’t agree with discrediting and intentionally demoralizing an entire group of people with unfounded hatred, then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Speak up. Share this. Object vocally and proudly. Vote for anyone else.
Because not objecting to hatred is not much better than supporting it.