This post was written on October 24, 2015.

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. You know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American…When can we get rid of them?” are words that thundered through a supporter’s mouth at a Donald Trump Campaign Rally on September 18th, 2015 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The unidentified man’s seemingly obvious bigotry was met with “We’re going to be looking at that and many other things,” by the current GOP frontrunner, Donald Trump.

As I am an American-Muslim who fervently believes in social justice, Trump’s continued promotion of intolerance is extremely troubling. It breaks my heart that I live in a country where someone could ever be considered for the presidency without affirming that Islamophobia, hate, and all forms of discrimination are unequivocally unacceptable. …

Me with our next President.

This is not an endorsement; this is a reality.

When I think about my experience as an American-Muslim teen, it is characterized by the feeling of constantly being on the defense.

I’m not somebody who is remotely athletic, but I like to think about it in terms of sports. Imagine the American-Muslim community as a sports team — we are always on the defense. Whether it is the Trump Effect manifesting in classrooms, the increase in Islamophobic hate crimes by 89%, or seven-year-old Abdul Aziz who was beaten up for being Muslim, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how our community must constantly be on guard. I might not be a sports expert, but I understand enough to realize what happens when a team is only on defense. It’s not fun. It’s exhausting. …

Growing up, I could barely count on my chubby little hands how many people in the media I saw myself in, and that was only partly due to lack of mathematical ability.

I was lucky though. I had a fierce mom who decided that I needed to be able to count on both hands with ease and that I deserved to have role models that I could relate to. …

My brand new Vans skidded the Paris streets just a few days ago while my eyes searched the skyline for the sights. The tourist in me yearned for the familiarity of the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre. I wanted to do things differently this time though — I mean I was in the country that contrived the word passé. So, I found a little cute bakery next to the Arts et Métiers subway stop in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris, and I quickly became furnished with a mozzarella, basil, and pesto sandwich that was encapsulated by a french baguette and a gourmet chocolate chip cookie for later. I left the blue and black embroidered shop with the usual pep in my step that my friends always tease me about. …

There’s something about the way the quiet of the night creeps upon me that provokes me to trespass into worlds that are not mine. It is comforting to see the same familiar faces dash across my screen with smiles, tears, and laughter, each telling me that I am not alone. More than that, each of the subtle intricacies of their lives allow me to forget about my own.

As an American-Muslim teenager growing up in a world that seems to be so intensely scared of my existence, it’s not always easy to navigate through adolescence. That’s obviously not hard to imagine, but it is each of my idiosyncrasies, passions, and secrets that haunt me so profoundly. My thirst for distraction boils down to the fact that I don’t know if I’ll ever feel good enough. I try to consume my every minute with tasks that I view are beneficial to society, myself, or my aspirations. Perhaps regrettably, I tend to focus on the latter. If my fingers are not vigorously pounding at my keyboard running my organization, flailing passionately in the air as I engage in meaningful dialogue, or pointing towards the next opportunity I can pursue, I feel as if I have failed. …


Ziad Ahmed

Yale ’21 | CEO of JUV Consulting | Founder of Redefy | Speaker/Student/Social Entrepreneur | he/him/his |

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